Boston Marathon bombings: HV runners recall panic, horror

Police presence is increased at the New Rochelle Police presence is increased at the New Rochelle train station after two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (April 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Lili Holzer-Glier

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Having just completed the Boston Marathon, Nyack resident Patrick Paretti was a few blocks away from the finish line, wrapped in a towel and changing his shorts, when he heard the explosions.

"It sounded like a bomb," said Paretti, 53, a teacher at Nyack Middle School.

The atmosphere in the city changed quickly from a beautiful spring day at a world-renowned event to horror and confusion, he said.

"There was a panic in the street, people crying and running around," Paretti said. "It was pretty tense."

Others expressed anger at another senseless act of violence against innocent Americans.

"It was a great day. It was a great event. Everything was fantastic. It's sad that it was marred," said Mike Quinlan, who ran in the marathon as a member of the Westchester Track Club. "It's really upsetting. What kind of cowards go after innocent people? What are you doing going after people watching a marathon? It makes no sense."

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Quinlan spoke from a hotel room in downtown Boston around 7 p.m., about three hours after the incident.

"It's superquiet," he said of the city streets beneath his window.

A Rye resident for 20 years, Adrienne Wald moved to Massachusetts around nine months ago to work at the nursing school at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She was near the finish line with 30 students, caring for exhausted runners, when the explosions occurred.

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She immediately recalled Sept. 11.

"I was in New York on 9/11," she said. "It was like flashbacks for me, the two explosions. Nobody knew what to expect. It was really a terrifying sight."

As the chaos abated a few hours after the explosions, Scarsdale native Robert Asher, 27, and other members of the Bronx-based Van Cortlandt Track Club left their hotel to go to a restaurant. They were all starving, Asher said. When they returned, they couldn't get back to their rooms.

"My hotel was evacuated," said Asher, who works in the athletic department at Edgemont High School. "My clothes and stuff are still in the hotel room. I have to call the hotel and have that shipped back."

HUDSON VALLEY LEADERS SPEAK OUT

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Hudson Valley leaders expressed condolences to the families of the victims, while also putting the region on alert.

"My heart goes out to the victims and their families of the horrific tragedy at the Boston Marathon," said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on his Facebook page. "As a result of the events in Boston, Westchester County is on a heightened level of readiness."

Astorino ordered county police to deploy a helicopter to monitor critical infrastructure and boats to patrol the Hudson River. Bomb dogs swept county buildings, including the county courthouse. And security was stepped up at Kensico Dam, Westchester County Airport and other locations.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued a statement saying he had directed the State Police, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and other agencies to go on a heightened state of alert after the blasts.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and Massachusetts as reports come in on the horrific tragedy," the governor said.

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The New York National Guard had three vehicles and six soldiers supporting security at the marathon, Cuomo noted. The personnel are working with Boston officials to handle the aftermath of the tragedy, Cuomo said.

The MTA police also issued a statement saying officers would be increasing patrols on Metro-North trains and checking riders' bags.

"All security personnel will remind all employees to be vigilant," the statement said. "The increased coverage will continue until we fully understand the cause of the explosions in Boston."

The Indian Point nuclear power plant issued a statement saying the facility was secure.

Peekskill Police Chief Eric Johansen said he was stepping up the police presence in the city.

"We've deployed extra patrols to critical locations," Johansen said.

The chairman of the State Senate's Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson), also issued a statement, saying that although police haven't yet identified the incident as a terrorist attack, people should remain on guard.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the citizens of Boston and the families of those involved in today's explosions," Ball said. "While reports remain unclear, it is important that New Yorkers and all Americans remain vigilant."

Wald felt she was in a state of shock from the experience.

"I was sure it was terrorism," she said. "I was waiting for another major explosion. I didn't think I would live another day."

Paretti, who spoke as he was driving home, said he was anxious, even on the road. He couldn't get the explosions off his mind.

"You start thinking, 'Are more bombs going to go off?' " he said. "It's terrifying, to be honest."

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