Horrific and surreal – those were the words of a Felton man who was just 700 yards away from the deadly Boston Marathon bombing.
Alnwick Harrier David Hindmarsh finished Monday’s race 25 minutes before the fatal twin blasts, which killed three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and injured nearly 200 others.
Shortly before the explosions, the 51-year-old had been high-fiving the crowd near to the finish-line where the chaos erupted.
And he feared his friend, Craig Smith, was embroiled in the terror after he went missing for a couple of hours. Thankfully, the Heaton Harrier was safe.
Before flying home on Tuesday night, David tweeted that he was leaving a ‘very sombre’ Boston and couldn’t wait to see his partner, Rebecca, and his kids.
It is an experience which is sure to stick long in his memory.
“The whole thing is just surreal,” said David, who was running the Boston Marathon for the third time.
“I’d passed the finish-line and had got my medal and kit.
“As I came back onto Boylston Street, three blocks down, I heard the blasts and saw smoke.
“I estimate the distance was about 700 yards from where I was standing.
“At first I thought it was a cannon – something to do with the marathon. I didn’t think it was a bomb or anything.
“I headed onto the Common and after about three minutes ambulances appeared from everywhere.”
“At first, I thought it was a cannon – something to do with the marathon. I didn’t think it was a bomb or anything. I headed onto the Common and after about three minutes ambulances appeared from everywhere.
“I was staying in the area and I put the TV on to see what had happened. I couldn’t believe it. The whole thing was horrific.
“I had finished the race 25 minutes before and just minutes earlier I’d been high-fiving the crowd where the bombs went off.”
His big concern was the whereabouts and welfare of his friend.
“It was a big worry. He hadn’t come back to where we were staying and I had no idea where he was.
“But he’d collapsed after the race through dehydration and was in the medical tent.
“He was out of it. He didn’t hear the explosion. Thankfully, he was in the second medical tent. If he had been in the first, then he would have only been about 50 or 60 yards from the blasts and may well have got hurt.”
David was out in Boston with other Heaton Harriers John James and Doug Michael. Both were safe.
In the aftermath of the explosions, David reassured his friends and family that the group was okay.
He tweeted: “I’m safe in Boston. Craig safe as well. John and Doug from Heaton also safe.”
David, a self-confessed obsessive marathon runner, was looking at staying in an apartment by the finish-line, but didn’t in the end.
“That was a lucky escape. I could have been walking right into the explosions,” he said.
David can’t believe the incident has happened.
Speaking to the Gazette on Tuesday from Boston, he said: “The mood is sombre. There are still sirens and police.
“It’s horrific. The race is fantastic and it is such a massive event where the whole city comes out and parties.
“It is the last place you’d expect it to happen.”