“I watched lifeless, bloody bodies being carried off.”
Carlos Cendoya was near the Boston Marathon finish line, feet from two blast that rocked the area around 2:56 p.m. Monday. His wife, Elizabeth, was roughly half a mile back down the marathon route.
“Basically, it was a horrific site,” he said via Facebook, still traumatized hours after the attack Monday. “One bomb went off. (I) stepped away in shock and (moved) closer to the second bomb.”
Not far away, just minutes before, Ellie McKenzie Dahl took a picture with her husband and baby in front of the flags that would be pressed by the impending explosion from two bombs.
“When the explosions happened, people were everywhere,” she said via phone Monday. “We were making our way through the crowd. We were still on the block where the bomb went off.
Somewhere near, Cendoya was staggering, “terrified of being in front of any buildings.”
As Dahl was turning around to see the smoke rising, Cendoya was forced to watch “lifeless, bloody bodies being carried off — most likely just in shock.”
“I turned around and saw the smoke going everywhere,” Dahl said. “It took a second or two, and we were like, we’ve got to get out of here.
Then came another explosion — and according to Dahl — the smell of natural gas
“We didn’t know if there were other bombs. We didn’t know if there would be a secondary explosion from the natural gas. We had our baby. We were trying to get away as fast as possible.”
When the bomb went off, the family of three was some 30 to 40 yards away. Dahl felt the earth shake, followed by a boom. The earth shook and she felt the concussion hit her: “the building just blew out, but we were on the ground level looking down the street, looking at it.”
Cendoya looked on to see the tragedy of the wounded victims unfold. “The worst was a child that couldn’t have been over 4 years old being carried into the firetruck; wasn’t moving and was covered in blood.”
Dahl and Cendoya noted a general lack of real chaos or people scrambling away, despite rising smoke from two bombs moving through the air.
“People were in shock,” Dahl recalled. “Other people were running and crying. As you made your way from that part of town to public transportation, some people knew about it, other people didn’t … Runners were still running.”
“People were looking in the air, steering away from garbage cans, crying,” Cendoya said. “I hear stories from the news that people were calm… People didn’t know what to think. People a block away didn’t know what was going on. They stopped the runners about a half-mile down the road and had them waiting there for their safety. The police there didn’t even know what was going on.”
Mobile networks quickly jammed as loved ones attempted to reach other and first responders scramble to understand they were under attack.
“People asked what was that noise,” Dahl said. “They said, ‘My cell phone didn’t work.’”
When Dahl and her family made it back to a friend’s apartment in the city, her husband spoke to a marathon runner who said she crossed the finish line and kept running when the bombs went off. “She left her medals, bags. She didn’t get her clothes or anything. She’d run to the other side of town. She was cold.”
As her baby screamed in the background — but otherwise healthy, uninjured and alive — Dahl said she was reminded of images from 9/11. “There was a little bit of that going on … It gives me a whole new perspective. Just unbelievable. Just unbelievable.”
As for Cendoya, he was trying to come to terms with the viciousness inflicted on those gathered for one of the more anticipated and exciting events running enthusiast take part in worldwide.
“It was a perfect day for a marathon. Everyone was really cheerful. What a way to end such a glorious day.”