EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 15, 2013

Witnesses describe scene of marathon bombing

BOSTON (AP) — Witnesses who heard the bomb blasts near the finish line of the Boston Marathon walked into a scene of chaos and carnage where they had expected celebration and revelry. A few accounts from people who were there:

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Bruce Mendelsohn was attending a post-race party in an office building just above the blast site when an explosion knocked him to the floor.

"There was like a flash, then a giant boom. The concussion blew me off the couch onto the ground," he said.

The former Army medic rushed outside and found blood, glass and debris everywhere and began applying pressure to "gruesome" wounds.

"This stuff is more like Baghdad and Bombay than Boston," said Mendelsohn, who works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "It was pretty terrifying."

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Phil Kenkel was approaching the finish line when the two explosions happened just moments apart. The first made him wonder if it was a prank, the second stirred "sheer terror."

The second bomb "went off virtually right beside me. About the only way out of that area was straight ahead," said Kenkel, of Stillwater, Okla.

"The glass was out of the building, and there was obviously a big hole in the crowd. You realize there must have been people there that were knocked down."

Kenkel called his wife to let her know he was all right.

"He wasn't hurt, which is a miracle, I guess," Evelyn Quillen said.

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Peter Gravelle was in the VIP seating area at the finish line, waiting for his son and granddaughter when the blasts happened. He saw one victim sail through the air — then what he believed was a severed limb.

"I thought I saw an arm," he said.

His wife, Mary, said she'll never forget the horror of what she saw.

"My heart breaks for all these people," she said. "They actually fell down in the road. The poor souls, yelling for help."

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