Injuries reported in explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line

Tribune Staff • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:28 PM

So far eight of nine Tri-Cities residents who participated in the Boston Marathon have been accounted for and escaped injury.

One runner, a Rhode Island state trooper, said he saw at least two dozen people with very serious injuries, including missing limbs.

About two hours after the winners crossed the line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion could be heard a few seconds later.

The Boston Marathon said that bombs caused the two explosions and that organizers were working with authorities to determine what happened. The Boston Police Department said two people were killed and 23 others injured.

To see a video of the explosions, CLICK HERE.

Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Bloody spectators were being carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured while stragglers in the 26.2-mile race were rerouted away from the smoking site.

The Boston Marathon website lists runners in the event. Grand Haven runners in the Boston Marathon included: Jeff Calkins, Dan Fojtik and Eric Repaal. Spring Lake runners included: Alana Garcia, Jeffrey Kommit, Anne Koopman, Todd Losee, Scott Smith and Astrid Wingard.

Grand Haven runner Jeff Calkins’ wife, Julie, reported to friends on her Facebook page that Jeff finished the marathon prior to the explosions and was OK.

“We are all OK,” she wrote on Facebook. “We heard about the explosion through text messages from family and friends! Thank you and please pray for the injured!”

Todd Losee, a 45-year-old runner from Spring Lake, said he was in his hotel room after finishing the race when the explosion occurred. His reaction: “Anger. I don't understand people. I have typed in many things and erased all.”

He said this is a day to remember.

“There is no reveling in this, just deep regrets for the victims,” Losee said less than an hour after the explosions. "Watching it all and finding it hard to believe. Had my slowest day and considered walking. Glad I didn't, but feel guilty for thinking that."

People do things that just can't be explained, noted Losee in a Facebook post a few hours after the explosion.

"I am glad to be done before the explosions and feel horrible for the victims and yet guilty that I was glad to be done," he shared. "Sad day to run the Boston marathon."

Fellow Spring Lake runner Jeffrey Kommit wrote on his Facebook page the following: "I am fine. I was about a half mile from the finish. You all probably know more than me. Still trying to locate Jenny, but a friend talked to her after the explosions."

Alana Garcia's husband Kevin Curley's Facebook page had an update Monday afternoon from Kevin's father. He writes, "He and Alana are OK!!! Thank God!"

Curley said it was a close call for Alana.

"My wife finished 15 minutes before the explosion," he wrote. "She had a flight to catch and left immediately. I guess God was on our side."

Susan Negen wrote the Tribune to report that Scott Smith, who was in the marathon, and his wife, Robin, are also OK after the blasts.

Ron Knoll, who is the race director for the Grand Haven Triathlon, said he saw on his friend's Facebook page that Anne and Mark Koopman and their daughter are all OK. Knoll said Anne finished the marathon in 3:45, probably a good hour before the bombs went off.

"It's just a tragedy," Knoll said of the bombing.

Dan Fojtik of Grand Haven was running and his group left "right before the bombs went off," according to a cell phone e-mail, but he couldn't be reached directly because phone calls were not going through Monday afternoon.

Boston Marathon runner Astrid Winguard from Spring Lake is also accounted for and OK.

No word yet on our remaining Tri-Cities runner, Eric Repaal.

The Boston Herald is reporting that City Council President Steve Murphy, who was at the finish line when the two explosions happened, said, “Police sources say they are finding more devices." The Herald said police have discovered at least two other devices and had a controlled detonation on at least one object.

Herald reporter Chris Cassidy, who was running in the marathon, said, “I saw two explosions. The first one was beyond the finish line. I heard a loud bang and I saw smoke rising. I kept running and I heard behind me a loud bang. It looked like it was in a trash can or something. That one was in front of Abe and Louie’s. There are people who have been hit with debris, people with bloody foreheads.”

Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Greenville, R.I., had just finished the race when they put the heat blanket wrap on him and he heard the first blast.

"I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor," he said. "We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."

A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.

"There are a lot of people down," said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg.

Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags lining the route of the world's oldest and most prestigious marathon. TV helicopter footage showed blood staining the pavement in the popular shopping and tourist area known as the Back Bay.

A third explosion was heard about an hour after the first two after authorities warned spectators to expect a loud noise from a water cannon.

"There are people who are really, really bloody," said Laura McLean, a runner from Toronto, who was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions. "They were pulling them into the medical tent."

Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.

"I was expecting my husband any minute," she said. "I don't know what this building is ... it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don't know what it was. I just ducked."

Runners who had not finished the race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.

Diane Losee of Spring Lake runs Inspirational Racing, a non-profit organization that puts on runs as fundraisers, with her husband, Todd, and said he and his friend, Curt Cotner of Muskegon, finished the Boston Marathon at about 1 p.m.

"They were in the hotel room watching TV when they saw  what was going on," she said.

He called her at about 2 p.m. to tell her how he did in the race, then texted her later to let her know about the bombing and that they were OK.

"I had to turn it off," Diane said of the television reports. "It's too close to what we do around here."

Social media exploded with commentary on the incident, with one Twitter commenter writing, “May God hold all Boston in the palm of His hand. Give us ability to see this is not the way. Guide us God to find peace.”

Another commenter wrote, “Heard reports that it could have been an accident? Let’s pray it’s not terrorists.”

Patti Eddington's of Spring Lake wrote on a Facebook page the following sentiment, following the comment up with a frowny face: "Grrrrr... the only thing runners should have to worry about is shin splints. Happy that our Spring Lake friends are safe, but thinking of the others."

See the video of the events by clicking HERE.

Do you know anyone locally who was participating in today's Boston Marathon, or who was a spectator at the Marathon? If so, call 616-842-6400 ext. 232 or e-mail cwelch@grandhaventribune.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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