Blog - Melida Arredondo - on the anniversary of the Marathon Bombing

BLOG - Harvesting Peace

4/15/2014, 8:30 a.m. | Updated on 4/15/2014, 8:30 a.m.
Melida and her husband, Carlos Arredondo, were witnesses to the Boston Marathon bombing. This is not their first up close ...
Melida Arredondo

There were two special folks we were waiting for: a member of the National Guard hiked for Carlos' deceased son Alex who was killed in Iraq, and a runner from Samaritans who was running for Brian, his younger son who had taken his life.

Carlos left the stands to go find another friend who was meeting us. He was on the ground level in front of the metal barriers about to return to my side.

Then I witnessed what hundreds witnessed that day: a large ball of fire and what sounded like a cannon exploding. Where there once a sea of people standing on the north side of Boylston Street and folks watching from office windows, I then witnessed plate glass windows falling and everyone who had been on the sidewalk across Boylston Street was gone. Afterwards a cloud of smoke enveloped the scene.

I lost sight of Carlos who had been in front of me just seconds before. I felt fear because when the second explosion went off a block east on Boylston Street, it became clear that these were bombs. Everyone in the stands started stampeding, and I feared that I might get trampled or fall. I sat down. I grabbed for a gentleman who was a New York City policeman who I had been speaking to. He aided in getting me down from the bleachers. (I later found out that there were people who fell from the grandstands and were injured including one woman who suffered a compression fracture in her back, a concussion and two broken wrists).

Once I stood on terra firma, I looked around for Carlos and could not find him. At that moment, there was a woman who was very agitated crying and gasping. I asked her if I could help. She stated that she needed to find her husband who had been about to cross the finish line. This woman was concerned for his safety. She reached for her cell phone but, all lines were busy. I asked how I could help and, she thanked me but was trying to get onto Boylston Street and walk west to find her husband. I lost sight of her in the crowd. I shouted that the exit was "this way" to folks who were confused and encouraged them to be calm and not run.

There was smoke still in the air. I feared for the many people who had been standing on the north side of Boylston. In years past, Carlos and I had stood in that spot.

The smell that rose became a stench combining the scent of fireworks with something else I could not describe. I could not rid myself of that smell for many days after the bombing and still have memory recall of that unique scent.

Where was Carlos? I knew that he went to help and could imagine him jumping the barriers, something he had done for several years at the bombing, jumping into the race as a "bandit" runner. The volunteers and police all led me out of the area to the southwest corner of the Boston Public Library. I stayed there hoping to see Carlos. No one's cellular phone was working, and mine was low on its battery anyway.