Walla Walla-area residents tell of Boston explosions


A series of bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line today, killing at least two people and injuring many more, according to media reports citing the Boston Police Department.

Several people from the Walla Walla area were at the race — some to watch, others to run — but there were no immediate reports any of them among the dead and more than 100 injured.

Walla Walla County Auditor Karen Martin, whose daughter Diane Martin Newton ran the race, said she and other family members were about two blocks away when the blasts occurred.

“We were just going through an intersection on Stuart Street and it was elbow-to-elbow people,” Martin told the Union-Bulletin. Then, after the first blast, “it was just dead silence. We couldn’t really see anything at that point, so we kept walking to our car and when we got into our parking garage we began hearing lots of cop cars and ambulances approaching.”

Her daughter had finished the marathon about 30-40 minutes before the first explosions, Martin said. She returned with her family group to their hotel room in Peabody, a city about 15 miles north of Boston, and began watching the news coverage.

“We’re counting our lucky stars and we’re just sick to our stomachs at what happened,” Martin said.

Another Walla Walla resident, Gary Rittenbach, had crossed the finish line about 20 minutes before the first blast. “I’m glad I didn’t listen to that little voice in my ear that told me to walk a bit.”

He said he had gotten through the “chute” where finishers were presented with their medals and was walking along Boylston Street “when I heard a deep 'boom’ and I said, 'this is not normal. It’s not like a gas main explosion or an electrical explosion.’”

Rittenbach said from his point of view he could see smoke coming up from the blast site, but wasn’t sure of its exact location. “I was just hoping it wasn’t anything with malice.”

Eyewitnesses said the first of two explosions near the finish line were about 15 seconds apart, according to news reports. A third explosion was heard just before 4 p.m., about an hour after the first two blasts.

Police have discovered at least two other devices and performed a controlled detonation on at least one object, The Associated Press reported.

The blasts took place about four hours after the start of the men’s race, which meant that there were still several thousand runners yet to finish the race.

Cynthia Wrinkle of Milton-Freewater was able to finish her run and was safely headed to a motel after the explosions, said stepdaughter Meredith Wrinkle in Facebook messages to the Union-Bulletin.

Cynthia Wrinkle, married to longtime Milton-Freewater educator Curt Wrinkle, is a serious marathon runner and has been putting in practice hours for this event, her stepdaughter said.

Brooke Johnson and Marcella Rietz were other area runners registered to compete in the race but opted not to go this year, according to Rietz.

“I guess this was a very good year not to go,” she said. “I think its a very sad, sad situation.”


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