Local runners share first-hand accounts of marathon explosions

Credit: WHDH

Local runners share first-hand accounts of marathon explosions


by BORA KIM / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @BoraKimWCNC


Posted on April 15, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 5:12 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon on Monday just as a Fort Mill woman was crossing the finish line.  Three people were killed and at least 22 others were injured.

NBC Charlotte spoke with Demi Clark by phone shortly after the explosions and you could still hear the shakiness in her voice as she described the chaos that soon unfolded.

(WATCH: Local runner shares bombing experience with Dave Wagner)

"My foot hit the chip, you know the finish line chip, and (I heard) a massive cannon blast sound.  I thought it was a cannon.  I turned to the left.  I had moved over to the right so I could wave at my family, thank God, because the runners to my left were all down on the ground.  People were just blown up against the fences and it was horrible.  I mean blood was everywhere and nobody knew what to do,” Clark said.  “Chaos.  Just absolute chaos.  Smoke everywhere and then another blast went off about 300 yards down maybe 10 seconds later.”

Clark went to a building near Boston Common and spoke to NBC Charlotte from a landline.

Clark lives in Fort Mill and was in Boston with a group of runners from Dream Big, a foundation that helps low-income children participate in sports.

“Friends were on the course behind me.  I hope they are all OK.  I did this with a charity so I hope all of my other runner friends finished,” Clark said.  “This is just so horrific.”

Clark was among the third wave of finishers crossing the line at exactly four hours and nine minutes in.  Her family was in the stands to cheer her on.  Clark’s family was on the opposite side of the explosion and were not injured.

“Everyone was screaming and running away from the finish line.  It was just terrible,” she said.

According to the registration list, there are 73 Charlotteans (from the City of Charlotte only) enrolled to participate in the Boston Marathon. There are a total of 455 from North Carolina.

“I don’t know who would do this.  I really don’t, but they went for the most impact for sure,” Clark said.

Shirley Wang of Waxhaw, told NBC Charlotte she had just crossed the finish line and had not reached the water station when she saw a cloud of smoke behind her.  She clocked in at 4:09 flat.

"No one knew what was going on, so they just told us to keep moving forward and it was surreal to keep going and getting our food.  It was just ridiculous, but we didn't know what was happening at the time,” she said.

Christy Boyles, of Lincolnton, was on the sidelines with her 13-year-old son.  She said he was overcome with emotions.  The two were in Boston, supporting two runners who were there raising money for his local children’s hospital.

"It was like a mob scene.  Everybody is freaking out because there are dozens of them outside trying to take the injured, and making sure they were okay,” she said.

At one point, she was forced to evacuate her hotel, located at Copley Square.

“I’m trying to get out of Copley Square before something else explodes,” she said.

Her group had tried to catch a cab but the roads were shut down.  They headed to a subway, but it too was closed down.  They were met by an officer instructing them to go back to their hotel and stay there.

Josh Lemke, of Plaza Midwood, traveled to Boston to run with 20 fellow athletes from the Charlotte Running Club.  He was out at a local bar celebrating his personal best when the news of the explosion spread quickly.

"It's just horrible thinking about all the people who had put all that time and effort.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be marred and saddened by a situation like this.  It's extremely emotional and horrifying,” he said.