SA man tells of Boston 'pandemonium'

2013-04-18 09:38

Cape Town - A Western Cape man has told how he finished his first Boston Marathon only half an hour before the two bombs went off at the finish line.

Jason Bell, programme director of International Fund for Animal Welfare in SA, told the Cape Argus that he was still at the finishing point when “chaos, panic and pandemonium” erupted after the bombings.

He said he was about 500 metres from the explosions after being unable to find a friend he was supposed to meet. 

'People just freaked out'

“In the seconds between the two explosions, I did a tremendous amount of mental processing. I knew that it was a public holiday and suspected that cannon blasts may have been organised to accompany the festivities at the finish line. But then I asked, why would there be so much smoke? Next I thought it may have been a gas explosion at a restaurant.”

Bell said when he saw screaming and crying people running both away from and towards the blast sites, he realised a terror attack might have occurred.

“It is ‘terrorism’. When you see something like that you realise how fitting that description is for an attack such as this. It’s impossible to remain calm, people just freaked out.”

Bell started worrying about his friend and only much later was able to borrow a phone and establish that he was safe.

Bell was also in the US when the 9/11 attacks happened. 

“It’s just another surreal ending to another trip to the States. The Boston Marathon is one of the greatest races in the world. It was a wonderful experience up until that moment when everything changed,” he said.

Bell took part in the marathon to raise awareness of the plight of African elephants.

'Loud bang'

Meanwhile, another South African has told of his experiences of the blasts after finishing the marathon.

David Duke, a radiologist formerly from Durban but who now lives in New York City, told The Witness he was not very far from where the first bomb exploded.

"I was around the corner getting my gear when I heard this loud bang. I didn’t think anything of it and I soon left. A while later, I got a phone call from friends who had seen it on TV,” he said.

He added he was glad it was not a public holiday in New York, because his wife and three children would probably have been at the finish line where the bombs exploded.

Duke said the experience would not deter him from competing in other marathons. He has already competed the London Marathon and the New York Marathon three times.

“I grew up in Durban, but I’ve never run the Comrades. I’m hoping to do so in the next couple of years.”


  • bon.bon.73157 - 2013-04-18 11:17

    Lucky escape ........ best you don't go over a third time.

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