Chet Greason, Gazette Staff
Stratford runner Gerry Thuss was 200 metres from the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the first bomb went off.
“It was a huge explosion. Things went flying,” he recounted hours later from the safety of a condo a kilometre and a half out of Boston’s downtown. “It was extremely loud … something I’d never heard or seen before.”
In the final stretch of the arduous 42 km race, Thuss, a superintendent with the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board, said his first thought was that a transformer had blown.
“It’s hard to imagine a bomb going off at the finish line. I thought, there’s a lot of TV things in and around there. I thought it could have been one of them.”
When the second bomb went off, this one much closer to Thuss, the realization began to dawn on him that the noise was something far more ominous than a technical issue.
“We all stopped … then police started moving us, all the spectators and runners, out of the area … it was pretty chaotic.”
The first explosive device was set off just over four hours into the marathon. The second followed seconds later. Reports indicate the bombs were packed with ball bearings which acted as shrapnel.
The identities and motives of those behind the bombings are unknown at this time.
Once removed from the immediate vicinity, the process of locating loved ones and verifying their safety began. Luckily, Thuss’ wife, Mary, and daughter, Jenny, both spectators at the marathon, were not amongst the over 130 people injured, some critically. At the time of press, three people are confirmed dead, including an eight-year old boy.
Thuss’ fellow Stratford runners, Pete Hansford and Bill McClure, whom Thuss travelled to Boston with, were also safe. Hansford was behind Thuss while McClure had finished ahead but was not at the finish line when the bombs exploded. The safety of another local runner, Matthew Ort, could not be immediately verified, though marathon results show he finished the race over an hour before the bombs went off.
“We’re all good. Everyone’s accounted for,” said Thuss.
“It boggles the mind. It’s unfathomable,” he added. “Trying to get back here … seeing the reactions of people you talk to; they’re in shock.
“That’s not something you sign up for when you do a marathon. It’s terrible.”