Last Modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 9:28 AM
Stephanie Moss had quickened her pace on the final leg of the Boston Marathon Monday, finishing the 26.2-mile run in 4 hours and 6 minutes.
That put the Lake Charles woman about 200 yards away from the finish line when the first of two bombs went off.
A woman who ran in the marathon with Moss had just asked her how she had fared when they heard the first explosion.
Moss turned around to see what had happened and there was another explosion.
Authorities said the two bombs were responsible for three deaths and more than 170 injuries, leaving a scene of mayhem.
“I saw the explosion. I saw the smoke, but fortunately didn’t see the casualties,” Moss said in a phone interview with the American Press Tuesday.
The woman with Moss began to cry because she had relatives near the finish line, but Moss encouraged her to continue to get away from the bomb site.
“When I turned around and saw smoke, I thought it was best to just move away and keep moving,” Moss said. “I just told her, we don’t know what happened; stick to your plan.”
They eventually parted ways; Moss said she doesn’t know if the woman’s family is OK.
“My first thoughts immediately was for those people right behind me and their families,” Moss said. “It was like the best spirit of the day, where everybody was having good time — it didn’t matter whether you were running, then the worst because one or two people changed people’s lives forever.”
Like many others who were in Boston Monday, Moss applauded the first responders.
“The response was amazing; the ambulances that got there, the national guard, the police sealed off the area quickly,” Moss said.
She was one of at least five Southwest Louisianians to run the race: Geoff Landry of Lake Charles, Kenneth Istre and David Howard of Sulphur and Scott Cushing of Leesville. Former Lake Charles resident Lindsey Lumpkin Colvin and her husband, Clay Colvin, also ran in the event.
Moss said she didn’t run her best time, but the race was the best she had ever run because of the crowd support and the atmosphere.
“It was a shame because the race was wonderful; the people of Boston were wonderful; the weather was wonderful,” Moss said. “Everyone was running together — white, black, all cultures — we were all unified running together.”
Two blocks away, Scott Slavens, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., was waiting for Moss in the family area.
The crowd there heard the first explosion, then another about 10 seconds later.
For 10 to 15 seconds, a hushed tone fell over the area before conversation picked back up, with one man even suggesting that the two loud booms were perhaps from nearby construction.
But when a cop went running by, Slavens, who ran the marathon in 2003, knew something was amiss.
“As the seconds passed, you could tell something was wrong. People were running; a runner came in crying,” Slavens said. “We talked to her and she said an explosion had happened near the finish line.”
Slavens had been following Moss’ progress through his phone, but had yet to receive an alert that she had finished the race.
He became concerned, but eventually, the text came in.
“It was a little surreal, a little scary after the thought, but I just wanted to make it my personal attitude to not let it impact me and not let the cowards control my sense of liberty,” Slavens said. “They can’t take that away from me.
“My first reaction is, (that) I can’t wait to qualify and run Boston again next year.”