BY BEN POPALARDO
On Monday April 15, two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, injuring a number of runners and onlookers.
Less than a minute before the first explosion, 26 year old runner Billie Edington, daughter of Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela Edington, crossed the finish line of the 26 mile long marathon.
She was running as a member of the Patriots Charitable Foundation team which consisted of roughly 30 runners, and had met up with her mother at the 19 mile mark. There were arrangements to meet up at the end of the race, though that wouldn’t be for over an hour. According to Edington, her daughter crossed the finish line at 2:49 pm that day.
“I had gotten a text message that she had finished the race. So we called to congratulate her. She said ‘Mom there’s been explosions, there’s smoke everywhere. I have to run,’” said Edington.
At first, it was suspected the explosions had been caused by malfunctioning transformers. Edington received another call from her daughter minutes later stating that things were more serious, and that she needed to get out of the area. Billie Edington left before things became too hectic.
Cell service was shut down, making communication difficult, but Edington’s daughter had let her know of the hotel to go to beforehand. They were able to make it out of the city, though tension was high.
“You’re so used to having instant contact with people so when you lose contact with people, particularly in a situation like that, it’s very frightening. None of us knew if there were going to be additional explosions,” said Edington.
On their way to the hotel and out of the city, Dean Edington attempted to gleam some information from the radio, but none of the stations seemed to be reporting on the attack yet. Information was scarce, as it was not clear exactly what occurred, the extent of the damage, or if more attacks were forthcoming.
Despite news outlets knowing few initial details, Edington praised the response of the city’s officials.
“There were just streams of police on motorcycles and emergency vehicles. The response to the incident was almost instantaneous, where you just had sirens coming from all over the place as they converged on that area of the city,” said Edington.
One of the more odder aspects of the attack for Edington was that only a day earlier, she had been in the area of the attack to pick up her daughters number for the marathon.
“We had gone down to the finish line where the explosions had been…it’s kind of odd then to see everything that happened just 24 hours later,” said Edington.
Information quickly came in the days following the attack. Three people were killed in the explosions and over 200 were injured. Many of the injuries included amputated limbs of a number of the runners and onlookers. No one was sure who had caused the explosion or what their motive was.
On April 18, the FBI released photos of two men, refering to them as “suspect number one” and “suspect number two.” The men were later identified as brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The following day, Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police in Watertown, Mass. While Dzhokhar was captured later that day.
At the time however, many people were clamoring for information. Little was known, and that caused an anxiety in a number of people. Many news outlets did their best to offer as many facts as they had available.
“I think the media, or at least the ones that I’ve been watching, were doing a really good job of covering it. I think everybody is very anxious to know more details. It’s such a sensational experience that you feel drawn to know more about it, even to witness it in that way and to share in the collective grief,” said Edington.
Social media played a large role in the circulation of information and evidence. Officials asked anyone with information to e-mail, Facebook, and even tweet whatever they knew if it could help the investigation. The images of the two suspects were posted online in the hopes of getting them to a larger audience.
“I think it’s been really impressive how social media has become part of this. Asking people to send pictures and videos as a way to help solve this crime. They needed to be able to communicate with the public,” said Edington.
Billie Edington ended the race unscathed, to which her mother is grateful, as did her team. Not all were so lucky however, and Dean Edington gives her thanks for this fact, knowing what could have been.
“I’m very grateful that she wasn’t hurt. Had she run just a little slower, she would have been caught up in the whole thing. If we had delayed her any longer at mile 19, she would have finished under four hours,” said Edington.