Irish witness tells of panic in aftermath of explosion

Dublin runner Gerry Carr crossed the finishing line just before the first explosion

Tue, Apr 16, 2013, 12:36

Dublin runner Gerry Carr crossed the finishing line just before the first explosion. “I was about 100 yards past the finishing line when the first bomb exploded,” he said. “I was just talking to an American I’d been running with and we were congratulating each other and we heard this big bang followed by another one about 30 seconds later.”

The explosions were “very, very loud”, he said. “There were a lot of spectators in the area, a lot of marathon finishers and marathon staff. People began running in every direction, ambulances were coming and all hell seemed to break loose.”

Mr Carr said the peak finishing time for runners was between three and a half to four and a half hours and the explosion went off four hours after the race began. “People were really panicking. I wasn’t able to run - I was too tired- so I just walked away.” He made his way back to the hotel where other Irish runners and spectators were congregating. He was part of a group that travelled with Dublin travel agents Sports Travel International. It was led by Eugene Coppinger, the deputy director of the Dublin Marathon.

He said the group was made up of 12 Irish and 12 British runners and three partners of the Irish runners. Mr Coppinger was at the hotel, waiting for the Irish runners to return when the explosions went off. He had been tracking their progress and was worried about Mr Carr as he knew he was due to pass the finish line at the time of the explosion. “But luckily he was okay.”

Mr Coppinger said he had been worried about Angela Loughran, whose husband Eamonn was running in the race. She had been standing near the finish line to wait for his return but did not come back to the hotel as expected.

"We were very concerned about her but she came back safe and sound about ten minutes ago," he said. "It was chaotic out there and there were no taxis, no trains so she had to walk back to the hotel," he said. "Everyone is accounted for now and we are all delighted."

The official website of the Boston Marathon lists 50 entrants resident in Ireland and 108 entrants with Irish citizenship. The addresses given include Carlow, Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Waterford, Galway, Cavan, Kerry and Westmeath.

For the past two years students from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) took part in the Boston Marathon to raise funds for Breast Cancer Ireland and according to their fundraising page, ten runners were selected to run the race. They were selected from the group of RCSI students that ran the Dublin City Marathon last October.

People used Twitter and online forums to let friends know they were safe. One poster on boards.ie wrote “An emotional bag of nerves is what is sitting on my bed now. What an horrendous end to a fantastic day. We were walking back to hotel and thought we heard thunder claps. Got back safely to the news reports. Just trying to contact everyone at home to let them know we’re safe.”

Another Irish runner wrote: “Heyyyy....total chaos here. Two explosions went off behind me as I left the medical tent... Pretty crazy and horrific scene here....this explosion thing really puts things in perspective. Very sad here.”

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Irish consulate in Boston was in touch with the emergency services in the city. He said anyone concerned about the safety of Irish citizens who were in the race, or involved in the event to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs at 01 4082000.

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