Boston Marathon bombings hit close to home 1

Zac Vierra Co-Editor-in-Chief

It was a week nobody will soon forget. What started as a celebration of Patriots’ Day soon became a day of sadness after the news of two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Soon it was clear these explosions were an act of terrorism and people in the greater Boston area began to mourn as the authorities started a search for the evil people behind this act.

On Thursday April, 18, just days after the bombing, two suspects shot an MIT police officer, hijacked a SUV, and started a massive shootout in Watertown. One suspect was killed while another was on the loose. On Friday, the entire city of Boston and surrounding areas, including Newton, was on lockdown. Finally, after hours of searching, and a virtual shutting down of all activity and traffic in Watertown, the second suspect was found and captured, alive.

After five days the madness was finally over.

Although nobody from the Lasell community was injured from the bombings, the events of the week had a huge impact on those at Lasell. Professors ran the marathon, athletic training students were working the marathon, and the entire campus was locked down and left without food for most of Friday. It was a week that saw sadness, fear, and hope for the future of the city of Boston, sentiments shared by college students, the young, and the old. 

Terror on a day of celebration

It was a typical Marathon Monday. Lasell students were outside celebrating the joy of Patriots’ Day. Many were cheering on runners as they ran down Route 16 as they made their way to Commonwealth Avenue in Newton. Many were enjoying the Marathon Monday Mixdown in the Arnow Quad.

At 2:50 p.m. everything changed.

Shortly after the explosions occurred on Boylston Street, students became aware of what was going on.

“When I first found out we were still right in the middle of our Marathon Monday Mixdown event which was going on and there was still an hour left to go. I got a text message about it saying there were explosions in Boston and I didn’t know how to react at that point,” said Justin Miller, the Station Manager of Lasell College Radio (LCR).

Although some students urged LCR to make an announcement about what happened, the station decided to keep quiet.

But word soon spread across campus about what was happening. Students found out about the bombings via social media, texts from friends and family, and word of mouth.

“My phone had died and figured something was up when I turned it back on and had a bunch of voicemails and text messages,” said senior Bailey Carr.

Senior Cassandra McKernan was inside working on a project when she heard about the news over the radio.

“I was in shock and worried about what just happened. I was thinking how could this have happened on this amazing day. It brought me back to how everyone felt about 9/11,” she said.

When Miller returned to his room after the Mixdown and put on the news the magnitude of the event set in.

“Honestly to have something like that happen so close to Lasell, only eight miles away, on a street where a lot of Lasell students usually go to enjoy themselves is really shocking and kind of horrifying,” he said.

Some students were close to the finish line. Many Lasell athletic training students were working the event and Lasell athletic trainer Chris Troyanos was working as the medical coordinator for the Marathon.

At 6:27 p.m. on Monday, President Michael Alexander sent an email saying that members of the Lasell community at the marathon had checked in and were safe.

“As far as we know, no one in our community was directly affected by the explosions in Boston,” said Alexander in the email.

A Professor’s Perspective

This was Professor Neil Hatem’s fifth Boston Marathon. Just like he did when he ran back in 1992, Hatem wore his Larry Bird Celtics jersey for the 26.2 mile journey.

Hatem had just passed Fenway Park and was roughly a mile from the finish line. He was about to get his final kick of adrenaline to boost him to the finish when he ran into a wall of people.

At first he didn’t know what to make of it. Hatem thought possibly a person had gotten hit in front of him.

“Once you stopped you realized something was wrong,” said Hatem.

Luckily Hatem had his cell phone on him and about 10 minutes after being stopped he received emails from friends in Washington D.C asking him if he was OK.

“The crowd of runners thought there was an electrical explosion. So I’m thinking something at the finish line. But finally when my friends [emailed] back two bombs you started to realize something bad happened,” said Hatem.

Hatem called his wife to tell her he was fine and soon got in contact with his father who picked him up in Cambridge.

While walking across the Longfellow Bridge, freezing in his Larry Bird Jersey with the wind whipping across the Charles River, Hatem sat down and tears came to his eyes.

“I was pretty emotional because I realized how many people were affected in my life and worried that I was OK,” he said.

Showing Respect

On Monday night, Miller saw a post on Facebook saying to wear purple for Boston. He decided to try to get members of LCR to join in the movement and a few members took a picture together the next day. Purple was chosen to symbolize unity of all citizens.

“I saw it as an inspirational way that we could show our support in a short period of time,” said Miller. “We really loved showing our support that way because it was a great reasonable message to show that we care about the citizens of Boston.”

On Wednesday April 17, a vigil was held at Newton City Hall. During the vigil Newton Mayor Setti Warren told stories about Newton residents who helped stranded runners.

“I was quite moved by the image of tough Bostonians on the outside with warm hearts on the inside, as well as by the stories of Newton residents helpings stranded runners – which apparently was happening all along the race route,” said Reverend Tom Sullivan.

Freshman Katie Binette didn’t know anybody on Boylston Street but she went to the vigil to support and honor those who were affected.

“Overall, it was really touching and put together really well,” she said.

Campus on Lockdown

Early Friday morning the unthinkable happened yet again when a violent shootout occurred in Watertown, just five miles from the Lasell campus. At 5:54 a.m. an email was sent out, cancelling classes at Lasell and informing students to stay indoors. Watertown, Boston, Cambridge, and Newton were all in virtual lockdown the rest of the day.

As food service was suspended, many students were stuck hungry in their dorm rooms. Knowing people were hungry, sophomore Bri Robbins posted on Facebook that she had peanut butter, jelly, and fluff. Although nobody came to her room, Robbins delivered food to some people in her dorm.

Trish Moran, the area coordinator in North Hall, let students into her apartment to cook food.

“It was nerve racking to have a suspect at large within miles of us,” said Moran. “Campus police made us feel really secure [during lockdown].”

Soon President Alexander and Jim Ostrow started delivering food and water to students.

“I’m proud of Lasell for staying together and strong,” said Robbins.

At 6:17 p.m., after more than 12 hours in lockdown, an emergency text was sent to the community, returning the campus to normal conditions. By then, the first suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was dead from the shootout the night before. Shortly after 8:30 p.m. suspect number two, Dzhokhar Tasarnaev the younger brother of suspect number one, was captured and sent to the hospital in serious condition.

Boston Strong

After the events across the city some students feel as if Marathon Monday will never be the same.

Carr believes the same carefree attitude on Patriots’s Day will be missing in the future.

“I think for the next few years, the happiness of the day is going to be missing,” she said.

Senior Jasmine Villanueva said she won’t be able to walk past Copley Square without thinking about the events that happened on April 15.

“I am so sad to see that what is considered a joyous day on campus will forever be changed,” said Villanueva.

Other students such as Binette believe that the events will make the community stronger.

“It was amazing to hear how Boston and the surrounding communities worked together to help out, even through the terror. I have allways loved the city of Boston and the way we reacted to this event makes me love it even more,” said Binnette.

As for Hatem, he is motivated to run his sixth Boston Marathon in 2014.

“I really feel proud to be from Boston more than ever. Not that you can ever be proud of something like this happening but I haven’t heard of one negative story,” he said. “I think next year will be the best marathon ever.”

Zach Gray, Kayli Hertel, Casey O’Brien, and Mary Pavlu contributed to this story. 

One comment

  1. Pingback: Boston Marathon bombings hit close to home | Zac Vierra

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