Amherst resident Athena Scrofano crossed the finish line Monday just a few minutes before the first explosion went off on Boylston Street, not far from where she was standing. Scrofano said panicked people began to run as soon as the smoke lifted from the road.
“We could see where we were standing that it was definitely the crowd that was attacked,” she said.
Scrofano participated in the race with friends Manuel Rodriguez, of Lorain, and Randy Barkacs, of Elyria. She and Rodriguez had finished together and were waiting for Barkacs, who they believed was just a minute behind them.
As the two bombs, which were reportedly made out of pressure cookers, metal shards and nails, exploded, Scrofano and Rodriguez said they panicked, believing that Barkacs was hit as well as Scrofano’s boyfriend, Jose Pamacho, of Lorain, who was supposed to be watching from the finish line.
“We were just so worried. We though maybe something happened to (Barkacs),” Rodriguez said. “It was a short period of time, but it felt like a long time.”
Barkacs fortunately had been farther back while the roads were blocked off.
With shoddy cell phone service — the service overloaded, authorities have said — Barkacs couldn’t contact his friends. Eventually, he got through to his wife in Elyria, who called Pamacho and Scrofano.
“I was one of the thousands that was stopped a half-mile from the finish line,” Barkacs said. “Fortunately, I had no idea what was going on … We had a suspicion that it was something bad, because we kept seeing ambulances go by.”
Scrofano was reunited with Pamacho after a couple hours. He had changed his mind about standing at the finish line because it was too crowded. She said the reunion with Pamacho was bittersweet.
“It makes you feel for all the people who didn’t get to do what I did,” she said.
Scrofano recounted the scene on Monday, which she called “frantic and scary.” She said rescue crews were performing procedures in tents, just because there was no time to wait.
“One gentleman had one of the worst things I’ve ever seen. He had no legs, and … the blood,” she said. “The only way I can describe it is like a Halloween scene.”
Barkacs, Rodriguez and Scrofano met during a 5K race and decided to run the Boston Marathon together. All three were driving home at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and they reported minimal problems leaving Boston after the attack.
Barkacs said they were able to take the subway and leave the city within three hours, although some of the stops were closed.
The three said they would continue to run, and Rodriguez said he would like to complete the Boston Marathon again.
Scrofano said she has a new sense of awareness, however.
“I love to run, and I will still run, but it’s frightening,” she said.
Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.