By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — As a pair of explosions brought chaos to the crowded streets of Boston Monday afternoon, all Youngstown resident Paul Beatty Jr. could do was keep running.
Beatty, competing in his first Boston Marathon, was about 3 miles from the race’s finish line when a pair of explosions rocked that area.
“I sensed that something had happened because the police were rushing around,” he said.
A moment later, his cell phone rang. It was his wife.
“She called me and said there had been two explosions at the finish line and I told her, ‘Well get out of there’,” Beatty said.
His daughter, a student at Boston University who had watched him running earlier in the race, then called with the same news. But as text messages asking him about his safety began flooding into his phone, law enforcement officials shut down the local cell towers.
“All I could do was keep running toward the finish line,” Beatty said. “But then they shut the race down.”
While Beatty was safe, he was concerned about his wife and three other children who had been on their way to the finish line area to watch him complete the race.
“They had parked and were walking to the finish line,” he said. “They were about five or 10 minutes away from reaching there (when the explosion occurred).”
Beatty said neither his wife nor his children heard the explosion and they were far enough away not to be in danger.
He spoke to the Gazette as he and his family were driving back to their Youngstown home.
“Everyone was in a panic mode,” Beatty said, “and we just got out of there as quick as we could. I feel awful, sick. People are dead or seriously hurt. It was truly a close call and we’re just grateful that it worked out OK.”
Matt Glynn, son of Niagara Gazette columnist Don Glynn, also ran in Monday’s race. The elder Glynn said his son completed the race in 599th place among male runners with a time of 2:47:15 — an excellent showing of the 27,000 participants.
With the quick finish, Matt and his family were safely away from the area and on their way home when the explosions occurred.
Also running in Monday’s marathon was Kelli Dimon, 25, of North Tonawanda. She posted on her Facebook page a short time after finishing the race that she was nearby when the explosions took place.
“I just got to my phone ... I am fine, thank goodness,” the post read. “I was actually in the finish line shoot when the bombs went off.”
John Reardon, the recently promoted CEO of Niagara Cerebral Palsy and an avid long-distance runner, was set to compete in his first-ever Boston Marathon on Monday, but a bad back forced him to withdraw from the prestigious race last Friday. Reardon said he’s glad things worked out the way that they did.
“I saw it on television this afternoon. It was awful,” he said by telephone from his Lockport home. “I would have been there. My expected finish time was plus or minus five minutes from the time of the explosion at the finish line. I was pretty shook up when I saw it. I would have had my wife (Glenda) and daughter and her husband and three grandkids waiting for me near where the explosions were.”
Local response may be coming
Area federal law enforcement sources say teams of agents from local Terrorism Task Forces across the United States, including the Buffalo JTTF, have been placed on stand-by with some likely to be sent to Boston and some possibly being dispatched overseas.
Sources say no determination had been made as to whether the Boston attack was domestic or international in origin.