Local woman recalls moments after blasts at Boston Marathon

Interview with Becky Schluter

Rachel Steibing: Can you describe that day for me and what you were thinking?

Becky: It was a gorgeous day.  We saw my husband, Keith, go by at mile 25, cheering him on to finish. I was so relieved to see him go by. (he had ran in it two years ago, but had to drop out at mile 23 and go to the hospital, so the goal was to finish this time)  Everyone around us was so enthusiastic and cheering the runners on. We did not have a designated meeting spot at that time, but decided to head toward the finish line. I was so happy that he was able to finish.

Rachel: How were you able to get in touch with your husband?

Becky: I could not, but thankfully, he was able to get a text to my daughter right after the bombs went off (before cell service went dead) that he was ok and in the secondary medical tent, approximately 5 blocks from the finish line. We were not able to communicate for approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Rachel: Can you describe what you heard and saw?

Becky: The first bomb sounded like a cannon and we wondered what it was.  The second one also sounded this way but then we could see smoke down the street and became very terrified as to what was going on and if my husband was ok. I honestly don’t remember what the other people on the street were doing because I was so worried about my husband.  My youngest daughter, Madelyn, ushered me back to a grocery store to sit down and get out of the cold.  People in the grocery store were continuing to shop seemingly unaware of anything bad going on. We decided to hang out there, but then they evacuated that building.  We were told to walk away from the bomb site.  We were told the subway was not running, so we couldn’t return to the hotel. We found “shelter” in the Prudential building a couple blocks away.  There was really no panic here.  People were sitting around and walking through-I don’t think any of us knew exactly what was going on. We found a television and watched news reports and that was scary. People let us use their Apple phones to try and send or call out. There were rumors that the Mandarin Hotel connected to the Prudential building was a potential bomb site, but we were never evacuated. People in the Cheesecake Factory were sitting at tables eating. We were getting dozens of texts and calls from people back home who were worried about us, but we were unable to send anything. Finally after 2 1/2 hours, my oldest daughter, Erin got through to us that they were headed our way, but were not allowed to come to our building.  We then left the building and walked about a block south and were reunited finally.

Rachel: When did you return home? And were you excited to be home?

Becky: We returned home Wednesday evening. I was glad we got home when we did because of everything that happened in the Boston area after we left.

Rachel: What was the environment like in Boston that day?

Becky: After the bombing, no one knew what had happened, so it was a state of confusion. Everyone was on their cell phones not knowing where to go or what to do. Police and ambulances were constantly going by. After we were reunited (around 5:30 pm) we didn’t know where to go. A police officer told us to go away from the downtown area toward some stores and restaurants to get warm or something to eat.  But we noticed the trains were running then, so we went back to our hotel in Cambridge and it was very subdued on the train.  The stations were not very crowded. There was a police presence everywhere. Over the next two days, we did some sight seeing (the Freedom Trail, the North End, Harvard University) and it was not crowded at all. The helicopters were hovering overhead.  Police were using the park across the street from the Cheers bar in Beacon Hill as a command post (it looked like), but people were still walking through the park with their dogs, etc.

Rachel: Any thoughts looking back?

Becky: My husband had finished the marathon approx. 1/2 hour before the bombs went off, so we were headed for the finish line on Boylston Street, but it was too crowded, so we cut through the Lord and Taylor store to get to the street one block over about 2-3 minutes before the bomb went off. Otherwise, we would have been right there where the bombs went off.  It is surreal watching the news reports, knowing we were there. We had went into the Marathon Sports store and the candy store the night before, which were right behind the first bombing site.  I feel incredibly grateful that we made the decision to get off Boylston St. I am disappointed that my husband accomplished this amazing feat and we didn’t get to celebrate like we’d planned. Of course, we are thankful we are all ok because it could have possibly been a very different outcome.