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Boston Marathon bombings survivor from LI also survived 9/11 attacks

John Kane, of Levittown, who ran the Boston

John Kane, of Levittown, who ran the Boston Marathon and witnessed the finish line bombings, was also a witness to the 9/11 attacks. (April 17, 2013) Credit: Craig Ruttle

BOSTON -- Apart from the nightmares, John Kane figures he's lucky to be alive.

The Levittown resident was working near the World Trade Center when the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred. Nearly 12 years later, he finished Monday's Boston Marathon just minutes before the bombings.

"The sound of the explosions at the finish line reminded me of that first plane hitting the tower, and I was transported back to that time," said Kane, 44, a construction safety manager at One World Trade Center. "I was living that nightmare all over again."

On that September morning in 2001, Kane was working at a construction site in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the Twin Towers. He witnessed the first plane's impact, then the second. As a massive cloud of dust and debris enveloped downtown, Kane thought he'd never live through anything so scary again, he said.

That changed on Monday.

A devoted runner, Kane finished the Boston Marathon -- his third -- in 3 hours, 9 minutes. His wife, Debbie, and sister-in-law Cyndi Hunt, also of Levittown, greeted him at the finish line.

They went back to their eighth-floor room at the nearby Lenox Hotel so Kane could get cleaned up. Then they opened the window and shouted encouragement to the other runners.

"We were cheering them on, and we decided to go back down and watch up close," Kane said.

But seconds later, he said, "I heard an explosion and saw a bright orange fireball. People were screaming. I felt like I was experiencing 9/11 all over again."

The Lenox was quickly evacuated. The Kanes and Hunt packed up what they could carry, went downstairs and joined throngs of terrified people.

"People were screaming and crying and running. It was just horrifying," he said. "It brought back those bad memories."

With their hotel temporarily shut down and their car secured in the Boylston Street-area crime scene, the trio stood outside, shivering and stunned.

"We didn't know where to go," Kane said.

Amy Solomon, a former Manhattan resident who lives nearby, spotted them.

"It's almost like they were waiting for someone," said Solomon, 33, who works in public relations. "My heart went out to them."

Solomon invited them into the apartment she shares with her longtime boyfriend, Jon Silber. They became fast friends, comforting each other in the wake of the chaos and sharing stories about New York, Solomon said.

"First he experiences 9/11, then this poor guy comes to Boston to run a race and experiences this tragedy," Solomon said of Kane. "I thought about how I would feel in their situation. I wanted to help."

Solomon cooked dinner -- pasta and salad and wine -- as they chatted and laughed. Thoughts of the bombings were pushed aside for those two hours.

"The kindness they showed, at a time when we needed it most, was incredible," Kane said.

Nearly three hours after the blasts, Kane was allowed to retrieve his car. He thanked Solomon and Silber and headed home, promising to keep in touch.

Kane was back at work yesterday in the shadow of the nearly completed One World Trade Center tower.

"I feel lucky to have survived both these events," he said. "But I hope I don't see anything like them again."

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