Click for a KHTS’ exclusive interview with a Santa Clarita man near the finish line when the bombs went off.
Authorities are still investigating the two explosions that killed two people and injured close to 50 at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
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Zack Totten, a Santa Clarita Valley resident and pastor of Connections at The Sanctuary Church in Canyon Country, was in Boston participating in the race and crossed the finish line approximately 15 minutes before the explosions.
“I was making my way through the finish chute, where you get medals and get your clothing and was trying to get to my wife and heard the explosions,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what it was. My wife was convinced it was a bomb, and she was correct.”
“When the bombs went off, it was chaos,” Totten added. “Many many just freaking out, understandably so.”
As they were making their way out of the area, Totten and his wife saw at least 24 ambulances and emergency response vehicles going toward the site of the explosion.
“(We) were just a block away, sitting for probably the next 45 minutes…in communication with family and friends, letting them know we’re okay.”
Eventually, officials began shutting down the entire area, and they brought in what Totten described as state troopers. He and his wife were asked them to leave the restaurant where they had been waiting.
Initially Totten had trouble getting his phone to work and thought they might be shutting down phone service because of reports that a cell phone had been used to detonate the bombs. Currently that report is unconfirmed.
“It’s tragic, obviously, something like this,” he said, “…the bombs being planted, from what I understand, right by the finish line.”
At least twelve athletes from the Santa Clarita Valley were participating in the race:
- Gerald Jones, Canyon County
- Zack Totten, Canyon Country
- Elaine Woodward, Canyon County
- Hoshang Dubash, Valencia
- Angela Reynolds, Valencia
- Steven Loy, Valencia
- Mara Stegemann, Valencia
- Dennis Lebman, Saugus
- David Weary, Acton
- Jodi Broz, Stevenson Ranch
- Wayne Lee, Stevenson Ranch
- Jana Whatley, Agua Dulce
Video from the finish line showed screams and an enormous cloud of white smoke, and about 20 seconds between the blasts. The Associated Press reported that bloody spectators were being carried to a medical tent that had been set up to care for tired runners.
The race began at 10 a.m., and the explosions were reported just before 3 p.m. The winners had long ago completed the race, but the explosions came as masses of other runners were approaching the finish.
Will Ritter, the spokesman for Massachusetts Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, told NBC News that he heard what sounded like two explosions and saw smoke rising near the Boston Public Library. He said that he saw three fire engines and police running to the site.
“We heard two really large explosions in rapid succession, about a second apart from each other,” Ritter said. “Everybody kind of ducked and hit the ground.”
The AP reported that runners and race organizers were crying as they fled the scene. Runners who were still on the 26.2-mile course were being stopped and directed elsewhere, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said. The agency suggested that people trying to reach loved ones use text messaging because of crowded phone lines.
Federal authorities told NBC News that they had no immediate information. In New York, a spokesman told Reuters that police were deploying counterterrorism vehicles around landmarks, including prominent hotels.
Allison Pari of KHTS AM-1220 and Tracy Connor of NBC News contributed to this report. Photos courtesy of NBC News.
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