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Blasts rock marathon’s finish
Local runners safe despite proximity to explosions
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Injured people and debris lie on the sidewalk near the Boston Marathon finish line following an explosion Monday in Boston. Three people were killed and more than 130 were injured in the explosions. (AP)
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

By CHRIS PRIDE - Bulletin Staff Writer

For Martinsville natives Robert and Susan Ramsey and Annette Green, it was supposed to be an exciting trip to Boston to compete in the Boston Marathon. What happened Monday afternoon wasn’t quite the experience they had in mind.

Robert Ramsey, a former Martinsville police officer running in his first marathon since 2010, was about a half-mile from the finish line and about to make the turn on to Boylston Street when a pair of explosions rocked the area, sending a wave of panic and chaos through downtown Boston. The blasts left at least three dead, nearly a dozen more in critical condition and at least 130 injured.

While Robert Ramsey wasn’t in immediate danger, his wife was waiting at the finish line for him to cross, right in the middle of the horrifying scene.

“I was expecting Robert at any time and I was standing right at the edge of the VIP seating,” Susan Ramsey said. “Some people were walking in front of me, so I was standing on the seating part and trying to spot him with the runners coming down the street, and then I heard this big boom like somebody had shot a gun.

“Then I turned my head and could see the dust and the debris and the fire coming up from the ground. I was in such shock and a few seconds later the second (explosion) went off, and then I’m thinking ‘I’ve got to get out from down here.’ Luckily I wasn’t up in the stands and it was easy for me to get out and not get caught in a stampede,” she added.

Green, who was competing in her fourth race, was there with her sister, Mary Cousineu of Burlington, Ontario. Green finished the race in three hours, 45 minutes. About 10 minutes later, she said, the first blast hit.

“I heard the explosion and saw the smoke. It took some time for word to get down to us what was going on.”

Susan Ramsey was on the opposite of the street where the explosions occurred, sitting in the grandstand lining the final stretch to the finish. Neither Susan Ramsey nor Green said they saw any of the grisly images from the scene.

Robert Ramsey, who ran in seven straight marathons between 2004 and 2010, said he was caught up in mass confusion in the aftermath.

“I thought the worst things,” he said. “(One person said) there were people with arms and legs severed, and when you know someone (was) there at the finish line, I was like ‘she may have been blown up.’” Shortly after the explosions, Susan Ramsey said she made it back to her hotel and called her daughter to say she was OK.

The explosions forced many participants to stop and not finish the race, including Ramsey. He said that was probably the most difficult thing on the runners near the finish line.

“It’s terrible when someone runs 25 1/2 miles and then is told to stop” Ramsey said. “I saw two people pass out and were hollering for medical assistance. I got queasy and thought I was going to throw up. When you stop like that it makes it real tough to not cramp up.”

The Ramseys escaped unscathed, but it certainly left a lasting impression on Susan.

“I told Robert that I don’t think I’m coming back,” she said. “I love coming up here, the people are so friendly, there are wonderful places to eat, great places to shop. We’ve been to a few Red Sox games in the past and it’s a wonderful city.

“But I just don’t think I can come back. It will take a lot of years for some people.”

Robert Ramsey said will run in the race again, but understands if others share his wife’s sentiments.

“There might be a lot of people that might not show up next year and could take some a little while to get over it,” he said.


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