EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 17, 2013

Fear, panic were just around the corner

Spectators and runners tell their stories


Timing is everything

Longtime Greater Derry Track Club member Linda Lutter of Hudson ran the Boston Marathon 12 years ago. But on Monday, she was there to cheer on niece Julie VanSchalkwyk, who was running as part of the Dana Farber cancer research team.

She and other family members cheered at the finish line when VanSchalkwyk crossed in just under four hours — minutes before the bombs went off.

Timing was everything, Lutter said.

The group went to the Marriott Hotel, where Dana Farber team members were scheduled to gather. There, Lutter said, they heard about the explosions and started to worry about her niece, who, with other runners, had been hustled out of the area. Once everyone was accounted for, the group was anxious to leave the city.

“We got nervous about taking the T so we just walked back to our car in Charlestown,” Lutter said.

Derry runners all accounted for

Eleven members of the Greater Derry Track Club ran in Boston Monday. Others were there to volunteer or watch friends and family cross the finish line.

Club president Jim Peters stayed home and tracked club members’ progress.

“I had my list up and was tracking our runners,” he said. “Then, I heard about the explosion and could see that three of them had finished, but seven had not.”

By Monday night, all runners were accounted for.

Always look for the good

Amanda McMeniman, 35, of Hampstead finished her third Boston Marathon slower than she wanted, but it was 30 minutes before the bombings.

She was two blocks away when she heard the boom.

“I just thought it was for Patriots Day or something,” she said. “But then I saw the smoke and I knew it was something else.”

Shortly after, the texts started flooding in.

“Everyone started asking if we were OK,” she said. “Then all the pieces started coming together.”

The hardest part of the day, she said, was talking to her two young children about what happened.

“It’s hard when you have kids and my kids were right there,” she said. “I just reminded them to always look for the good people in life.”

Staff writers Alex Lippa, Paul Tennant and Bill Burt contributed to this report.

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