Marathon explosions affect local residents

Residents of Bennington and of neighboring states were among those impacted by the explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Bennington attorney Danielle Fogarty was running the marathon Monday for the New England Patriots' charitable donations program. According to the Boston Marathon's official timing site, Fogarty was last checked in at the 40 kilometer mark. She was due to cross the finish line within minutes of the twin blasts.

Fogarty confirmed in a brief email to the Banner Monday evening that she was safe.

* Bonnie Eaton, North Brookfield, Mass., told the Banner, "We were a block and a half away from the explosion when it happened."

Eaton, 41, said she was in town with her runner friends Robert LaPointe and Kelly Sliwinski. After LaPointe, 44, crossed the finish line he posed for a photo with his two children, Braedon, 6, and Ben, 11.

"As soon as I took the picture there was the explosion," said Eaton. "Talking about it shakes you up. He just crossed the finish line, he just got across."

People started running immediately. "The first thing in everyone's mind was 9/11 and we just wanted to get out of there," Eaton said, adding that she and others were looking up at the buildings around them in fear of the incident being similar to the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. "You try to put it in the back of your mind but it's still fresh. I remember looking up at the tall buildings and remembering the images of 9/11."

"I just ran past both explosion sites about a minute before," said LaPointe, who is Eaton's running coach and a first-time Boston Marathon runner. He too thought of 9/11 and said there was no question the explosions were bombs.

"It was like 9/11. When the first plane hit everyone was kind of shocked but when the second one hit, you knew."

What would have been a short walk across the street to the Westin Hotel where Eaton and her friends were staying became a 45 minute journey.

"Even when were in a safe street more police would come and yell at us to keep moving," she said.

Those in the hotel where a press conference was being held by emergency officials are not allowed to leave, said Eaton. Cell phone use is limited and so it has been challenging to find out if their friends are safe.

* Robert LaPointe was running for Team Hoyt, led by Dick Hoyt and his son Rick Hoyt. Rick Hoyt suffers from cerebral palsy and is pushed through races and marathons by his father. LaPointe said he had not heard how other members of the team are doing and was surprised the cell phone call with the Banner was not cut off.

"I don't know about anybody else. I don't know," he said.

"We just thank God we got out okay. We want to go home. I have two daughters ... Until I get home I'm not safe. Physically now I'm fine. This will stick in our minds for a long time, I know that," she said."

From their hotel room Eaton and LaPointe can see the area that would normally be blanketed in runners. LaPointe said the ground is covered in litter from people having dropped items while running. Eaton said she could see the Lexington hotel across from her, as what appeared to be police carrying rifles took position on the building's roof.

* Bennington native and current Boston resident Shira Sternberg was returning to her Tremont Street home about half a mile from Copley Square when the blasts occurred.

"Lots of sirens and people in shock and crying, screaming, being carried by loved ones," Sternberg wrote in a Facebook message. "You could see the terror in faces."

Sternberg wrote that she was thankful she did not run on Monday, and felt "saddened for our country." She was planning to try and make it to her sister's home for dinner "and be thankful for what we have." But first, Sternberg decided to run the streets of Boston, something she does to help clear her head. Monday's bombs ruined the sanctuary that runners find within themselves as they run, she said.

"I just ran and as a runner I know people run for a lot of reasons. I run because it makes all my problems seem a little smaller, sometimes for a brief moment they disappear. So to take that away from the runners today leaves me speechless," she wrote.

* Patricia Roy and her son, Davin, 10, of Colchester, Conn., were in Boston for the Red Sox game and were heading back to their hotel shortly after the explosions.

"We walked by runners on Beacon. We walked to Huntington. Heard and saw many EMS vehicles. People on cells were crying," she said via text message.

She later texted, "There are hundreds of people walking on Huntington. Traffic, sirens, tears and hugs."

* Hillary Durkee of Boston was in the Prudential Center, on Boylston Street where the explosions occurred.

"I was going onto the MBTA when people shoved me out: 'Get out, this station's shut down. A lot of stations are shutting down. There was a bomb,'" Durkee said via instant message. "I thought she was (expletive) joking until I saw everybody on their phones and ambulance after ambulance after police car after police car just flooded the center of the city. Boston went on complete lockdown I couldn't even get ahold of my dad, I just managed to tell him I'm okay I think the scariest part was just not knowing what was going on, how am I going to get home, and 'oh my god. I left the finish line five minutes before the bomb went off.'"

* Boston resident and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts graduate, Nora Weiss was at her apartment roughly five miles from the explosion when she recieved the news. She used her access to social media to coordinate her friends safe return home.

"A lot of the T lines (had) been shut down and there was apparently another possible explosive found in another T station," she said. "I immediately looked up ways for all my friends in town to get home. With the scattered cell service, it was hard to update my friends and family but sticking with Twitter updates was extremely helpful."

Vermont officials also weighed in on the explosions:

* Bennington Police Lt. Lloyd Dean said the state of Vermont issued a "situation awareness bulletin" to all Vermont law enforcement agencies updating them on the explosions. He said Bennington Police will "know to be vigilant in their patrol area in mindful of the Boston incident."

"I don't believe we have targetable assets, but our officers will be on a heightened sense of awareness," Dean said.

* Via a prepared statement, Gov. Peter Shumlin said, "Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured in (Monday's)explosions in Boston. It is heartbreaking that what started out as a festive sporting event for thousands, including many Vermonters, turned into a tragedy. Vermont has offered any help needed to Massachusetts law enforcement in the aftermath of the blasts. We continue to closely monitor the situation, and are prepared to assist our neighbors in Massachusetts if asked."

* Sen. Bernie Sanders made the following statement: "The Boston Marathon is one of the greatest sporting events in the United States. What happened today is a tragedy beyond words. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and friends.

* Rep. Peter Welch said in a prepared statement: "Like all Vermonters and all Americans, I was horrified to learn of the events that unfolded in Boston this afternoon. As we anxiously await news on Vermonters participating in this event, we pray for the victims, their families, and the residents of the great city of Boston."

Prayers for peace

On Tuesday evening around 7 p.m., The Rev. Jerrod Hugenot, of Bennington First Baptist Church and the Rev. William Kelley, pastor of Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church in Bennington, organized an impromptu gathering of about 10 people at the Four Corners in Bennington. Betsey Belvin of the Bennington-area Baha'i community was also present, as were people from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Wearing a clerical stole, Hugenot led the group in formal prayer. "The heaviness of the world is bearing down on us," he said upon concluding. "It's a trying time," he added. "Let us be methodical before we start pointing fingers. Restraint is a beautiful thing."

Cindy Marsh, a member of First Baptist, said that she learned from Facebook that members of the Green Mountain Girls running club who were at the marathon are all OK. "It's an extremely sad thing," she said, noting the two people killed and all the others injured, including those losing limbs. "I can't quite fathom the chaos that's in the hospitals, either."

Banner staff members Neal Goswami, Andrew Roiter, Mark Rondeau and Keith Whitcomb Jr. contributed to this report.

Local residents took to Twitter on monday to express their thoughts following the twin blasts near the finish line of the Boston Marathon:


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