BOSTON — Michelle Zerzanek had just completed the Boston Marathon Monday and was getting hot chocolate at a restaurant two blocks from the finish line when she noticed an “exodus” of people leaving the race area.
“There was an exodus of people walking down this side street and they were crying,” Zerzanek, 31, of Racine, said. “We just kept walking and thought, ‘Maybe they’re just disappointed marathoners,’ at first. We asked the people behind us and the guy pulled out his iPhone and showed us a photo that was already posted to Twitter and it was the bloody aftermath.”
Two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon around 2 p.m. Central Standard Time, leaving several dead and injuring more than 100 more. Some of the victims lost arms and legs. Others suffered broken bones, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums.
Zerzanek, a teacher at Gilmore Middle School, luckily missed being among those hurt.
“One of the first things I said when I saw what had happened was, ‘I think I ran past bombs today.’ That’s a very surreal — what?! I ran past bombs,’” Zerzanek said about two hours after the bombing, adding it also crossed her mind that she’d been saved from being among the dead or injured. “The hand of God got me through the finish line. I’m just very, very grateful and sad for these people.”
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Later Monday, Zerzanek sat in her hotel room, glued to TV news updates and sending Facebook messages and phone calls to family and friends to let them know she was alright.
“I’m OK. I’m just very, very numb right now,” she said. “It’s still kind of unfolding. The sirens have been non-stop since we left.”
Fellow Boston Marathon runner Cory Harris, 24, of Burlington, was also updating his Facebook Monday.
“Thanks so much for the posts, calls, and texts,” he posted on his wall a few hours after the explosions. “I really appreciate the thoughts and prayers...my family and I were less than a block away when the explosions occurred (sic), but fortunately we are all ok! I’ll keep you posted!”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.