Moses Lake’s Jodi and Christian O’Shea said the silence was the most vivid memory, in the first few seconds after two bombs exploded during Monday’s Boston Marathon.
Jodi O’Shea ran in the marathon and crossed the finish line about a half-hour before the bomb exploded about 2:55 p.m. She was on Boyleston Street, about two blocks away, when the first bomb went off. “Here’s the eerie thing. There was no screaming,” she said.
Christian O’Shea and the couple’s 10-year-old son accompanied Jodi to Boston, and were looking for her in the crowds at the finish line in Copley Square. They were about a block away, Jodi said, and were heading back up the street toward the finish line.
Christian O’Shea and his son had the choice to turn one way and try their luck getting through the crowd, or turn the other way toward the grandstands. They chose to try their luck in the crowd -- which was a good idea, because otherwise they would’ve been within a few hundred feet of the explosion.
And immediately after the bomb went off there wasn’t a sound. According to Christian “there was an eerie silence,” Jodi said.
“I was hanging around a little longer than I normally would have,” Jodi O’Shea said, because she got cramps in the chilly wind and had to wait until they passed. She was waiting to pick up her personal belongings when the first bomb went off.
“I thought it was a cannon,” she said. Then the second bomb detonated.
“Everyone’s initial reaction is to panic,” she said. It was clear something was wrong; Jodi O’Shea said she got her things and walked to the facility set up as a meeting place for families.
But it was impossible to find anyone in the crowd, O’Shea said. “The police standing there didn’t really know what happened,” she said, and no one else did either.
She walked another few blocks to Boston Common, and by that time emergency vehicles were beginning their response. But nobody on Boston Common knew what was happening, and the two young women she made inquiries of were unfazed at first. “This happens all the time. This is Boston,” O’Shea quoted them saying.
They found out what was going on when one of the young women got the news on her phone. Jodi O’Shea said she immediately started trying to contact her husband, but cellular service was down. That was when she heard a third explosion (which was law enforcement officers taking care of a suspicious package). Another explosion, her husband and son still not responding, “That was kind of nerve-wracking,” she said.
Phone service was restored, and O’Shea managed to contact her husband, she said.
They still didn’t know the extent of the damage and injuries, she said, but they decided not to attempt to get back to their hotel for a while.
They met back in a hotel room rented by friends and fellow runners a few blocks away. It was only when they turned on the television that they learned the extent of what had happened, she said.
O’Shea qualified for the 2014 marathon, and she plans to be back, because whatever the bombers were trying to accomplish, they didn’t endanger the marathon’s future. Runners who complete the race receive a jacket, and “one of the things you do is wear your jacket” when going around town, she said.
People she met expressed concern for the runners, and also were concerned that the runners wouldn’t come back in 2014. O’Shea said there’s little chance of that.
“You don’t target marathoners,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to scare us off.”
The marathon was a great experience, she said, and the way Bostonians reacted after the bombing reinforced her impression of the city. “I was telling everyone, ’I’m going to be here next year,’ and they’re saying, ’we’ll be here, too,’” she said.