EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 16, 2013

Witnesses describe finish line as 'war zone'

Heightened security to be expected in Boston today


"People just started going crazy," Glenn Herlihy said. "They knocked over the barriers and ran onto Boylston Street. People thought maybe there was a bomb in the Lenox and other places. People were dropping backpacks and bags everywhere, which was scary too. A lot of people started crying in disbelief and shock."

Herlihy worried about his brother, but soon found he had stopped about 300 yards before the explosion where thousands of others were halted by police.

When the second bomb went off, the spectators' cheers turned to screams. As sirens blared, emergency workers and National Guardsmen who had been assigned to the race for crowd control began climbing over and tearing down temporary fences to get to the blast site.

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 — followed by what he believed was a severed limb. 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."

Andover High School track coach Peter Comeau was a block from the finish line near Trinity Church, volunteering and handing out blankets to runners as they finished the Boston Marathon. After hearing the explosions, he ran toward the scene.

"When I got to the finish line (area), it was chaos. Bodies were on the ground everywhere," he said." It was like a war zone.”

Instead of handing out blankets, Comeau found himself helping the medics.

"I heard people yelling for gauze pads, so I went over to the (nearest medical tent), put on some gloves, and brought gauze pads over to the medics," said Comeau. "It was scary. I saw one person laying there without any legs. It was awful."

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