Chicago On Alert After Boston Marathon Explosions
(CBS/AP) –The head of the Chicago Marathon says the fatal explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line Monday underscore the importance of security at the major events.
But Carey Pinkowski, who was in Boston with his staff, says it’s premature to start thinking about wholesale changes at his city’s race. Chicago’s starting and finish line is tightly controlled, he says.
“The start and finish line in Chicago is a highly secured area. We block traffic off; it’s fenced in. We have our contracted security and we work with the police. It’s something that we’re routinely aware of,” Pinkowski told 670 The Score on Friday as he was making his way back to Chicago.
He said there were likely several Chicago-area residents participating in the Boston Marathon. There were 15 to 20 locals on his flight to Boston alone over the weekend.
“The Chicago Marathon is one of the largest qualifiers for the Boston Marathon so there were a lot of people from the Chicago Marathon that were participating today,” Pinkowski said. “It’s a big tradition for Chicagoans.”
Pinkowski, who was watching television coverage of the aftermath of the explosions, said the scene was “surreal.”
“A marathon is a celebration of humanity,” he said. “You have some of the greatest athletes in the world upfront and then you have people of all different abilities from all around the world that are celebrating a personal commitment and dedication and challenge.”
Runner Heather Corcoran of the St. Charles-Geneva area tells WBBM Newsradio she heard and felt the first explosion from the 10th floor of her hotel, two blocks from the finish line.
“It’s terrifying, it’s terrifying. I think everybody here, probably the first thing that goes through their mind is 9-11,” she says. “You just pray, you just pray.”
Sandy Borgman, from Glen Ellyn, just finished running the marathon in under four hours when the explosions happened.
“I heard it. I finished a couple of minutes before it happened I don’t even know how long it takes so long to get out of the runner corral, and I picked up my stuff and I was meeting my friend one block over from Boylston Street, so I had called my friend and we met up and we were probably two blocks away from the explosion,” said Borgman.
Borgman says she and her friend got away from the area as soon as possible and she contacted her family.
Three people are dead and more than 100 injured after two bombs went off near the Boston Marathon finish line Monday afternoon. It happened around 2:50 p.m. outside Marathon Sports on Boylston Street as thousands of runners were finishing the race.
An Aurora couple’s first reaction after the explosions at the Boston Marathon was to find each other.
Steven Mayer was in Boston to cheer on his wife, Jamie. He told Newsradio that he “just heard a big explosion, it sounded like lighting, it hit next me, the ground shook a little bit.”
Jamie Mayer had just crossed the finish line.
She said after she heard the blast “no one was panicking quite yet, no one knew exactly what it was. And my husband was much closer and called me panicking, saying ‘Get out, something bad has happened,’ and then I knew.”
The Mayers found each other and Jamie has concerns about her running future.
“At the same time, I think bad stuff can happen anywhere at any time and this is just another horrible example of that. I don’t know that it would keep me from running, it’s just another reminder that the world can be really scary sometimes.”
Meanwhile, Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communication sought to reassure residents that authorities are being vigilant here.
“We are closely monitoring events as they unfold in Boston and the City of Chicago’s public safety departments are actively communicating with our law enforcement partners both locally and throughout the country. At this time, we are not aware of any additional threats,” OEMC said in a written statement.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said his administration also is on top of potential threats.
“I have directed all of the state’s public safety agencies – including the Illinois State Police, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Department of Military Affairs and Office of the State Fire Marshal – to stand ready to assist and remain vigilant in responding to and reporting suspicious activity. As always, the people of Illinois should be aware of activities around them and report anything suspicious to local law enforcement officials,” he said.
There was no immediate word on the motive or who may have launched the attack. Some 27,000 runners took part in the 26.2-mile race, one of the world’s premier marathons.
“There are people who are really, really bloody,” said Laura McLean, a runner from Toronto, who was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions. “They were pulling them into the medical tent.”
Mayor Emanuel said he talked with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino by phone to offer his support.
“The running of the Boston Marathon and Patriots Day are time-honored traditions. While the details of today’s tragedy are still unclear, one thing was immediately known: the patriotism and professionalism of public servants and first responders. Our hearts go out the first responders, runners, volunteers and spectators in Boston today,” Emanuel said in a written statement.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he was conferring with the state’s top emergency-management official.
About two hours after the winners crossed the line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion could be heard a few seconds later.
The Boston Marathon said that bombs caused the two explosions and that organizers were working with authorities to determine what happened. The Boston Police Department said two people were killed and 23 others injured.
A senior U.S. intelligence official said the two other explosive devices found nearby were being dismantled. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the findings publicly.
A third explosion was heard about an hour after the first two after authorities warned spectators to expect a loud noise from a water cannon that police apparently were using to destroy one of the devices.
Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured while race stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site.
Roupen Bastajian, a 35-year-old state trooper from Smithfield, R.I., had just finished the race when they put the heat blanket wrap on him and he heard the first blast.
“I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor,” he said. “We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. … At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing.”
A Boston police officer was wheeled from the course with a leg injury that was bleeding.
“There are a lot of people down,” said one man, whose bib No. 17528 identified him as Frank Deruyter of North Carolina. He was not injured, but marathon workers were carrying one woman, who did not appear to be a runner, to the medical area as blood gushed from her leg.
Smoke rose from the blasts, fluttering through the national flags lining the route of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon. TV helicopter footage showed blood staining the pavement in the popular shopping and tourist area known as the Back Bay.
Cherie Falgoust was waiting for her husband, who was running the race.
“I was expecting my husband any minute,” she said. “I don’t know what this building is … it just blew. Just a big bomb, a loud boom, and then glass everywhere. Something hit my head. I don’t know what it was. I just ducked.”
Runners who had not finished the race were diverted straight down Commonwealth Avenue and into a family meeting area, according to an emergency plan that had been in place.
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