LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

New Providence Runner Describes Chaotic Scene at Boston Marathon

Hundreds of New Jerseyans participated in the Boston Marathon, where two explosions killed three and injured more than 140. One of those runners is Terri Keller of New Providence. She had just finished the race and was about a quarter of a mile from the explosion site when they went off. She shared her experiences with NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider.

Keller explained that after crossing the finish line, she walked through the multiple phases of finishing the marathon. “You get water, you get a blanket to put around you. Then you have to go and get your clothes that you stashed in the bus at the start to put on after the race,” she said. She was looking for the bus with her race number on it when she heard the first explosion.

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“We turned around and we saw smoke and then there was a second explosion. And everybody just stopped to look and see what happened. And then shortly thereafter there was just a million sirens and people panicking somewhat,” Keller said. “My running partner, who had already finished, was back at the hotel we stayed in and they were evacuating hotels, streets were all blocked, pretty chaotic and scary and it’s remained to be that way the whole afternoon.”

When the explosion first happened, Keller said she thought it might have been a speaker blowing up. “You don’t want to think that it’s anything horrible,” she said. “On my way back to the hotel there was a lot of people talking about it — about explosions, people getting hurt and people getting injured. Your heart just sinks. All you can think about of course is 9/11 and the fact that someone or something would happen like that on such a great day in Boston, such a wonderful occasion, it’s sickening really.”

After news of the explosions broke, security was tightened in Boston and cities around the country. Keller said there was a large police presence at the train station and on the train when she left the city. “When we got on the train — I’m taking the Amtrak train — the two Amtrak police officers, one with the dog walked through the length of the train and made an announcement that they were going to be checking IDs randomly. They didn’t check mine, but there were police everywhere,” she said.

Keller was staying at the Sheraton Hotel, which was not evacuated. She said the hotel lobby was full of people from the marathon who weren’t able to get back to where they had intended to go. Hotel personnel handed out towels, water and coffee for those stranded, according to Keller.