Close call in Boston run for Gympie woman

IF GYMPIE woman Erin Nolan had left the Boston Marathon half an hour later than she did on Monday afternoon she could well have been one of the casualties of the two suspected pressure cooker bombs that went off 100m apart, spraying nails and metal pellets, killing three people and injuring 180.

The 25-year-old former St Patrick's College student and her partner, Brendan Griffen, had stood and watched the race from about 1.30-2.15pm.

Looking back at maps of where the bombs went off on Monday night they realised they had been standing where the second bomb exploded 30 minutes earlier.

Erin is a primary school teacher and the daughter of Gympie couple Michael and Robyn Nolan.

She said yesterday she and Brendan, originally from Bargara, had just returned that morning from a weekend in New York.

"We live in Cambridge and caught the subway into Boston at about 1pm," she said.

"The city was very crowded and we walked around a few streets for a while before we found a spot where we could see the race. It was just the two of us. We entered Boylston St via Exeter St and found a spot to watch the race. We figured out later from photos that we were about 400m from the finish line.

"At about 2.15pm we left the race and walked a couple of blocks to the Boston Common (the local park in the middle of Boston). We sat around for awhile enjoying the sunshine. We heard the sirens go off, but didn't think anything of them as we have now become accustomed to sirens going off all the time in Boston.

"I thought that maybe they were taking away a runner that needed help, but didn't think anything of it. There is a subway station in the Boston Common and hundreds of people, competitors and families, were walking through the park towards the train station. We waited for a bit of a lull before we decided to head towards the train.

"We then caught the train about five stations north to our local supermarket to get groceries. We were in the supermarket when we heard someone at the check out mention that there were explosions at the finish line. We quickly Googled the news and read stories on our way home, one station south to Harvard Square. By the time I was at my door step it was 3.55pm (local time) and my Mum and Dad were calling me asking me if we were all right. We told them that we'd only just heard about it on the news, that we were safe, and that we'd update them with more information when we could.

"We rushed inside and turned on the TV and sat watching until about 10pm. Mum and Dad were initially very worried as the news in Australia reported that there were "terrorist actions in Boston". At that point in time (about 4pm) the news was still reporting only that "explosions" had gone off, and they were not labelling them as bombs.

"A couple of hours later the officials were indeed reporting them as bombs and have since then, 24 hours later, labelled them as a terrorist attack. Brendan and I commented that it was very strange to be watching this all on TV and being in the same country as it was occurring, when usually we're watching it happen over the other side of the world.

"Looking back at maps of where the bombs went off, we have since worked out that we were in the same location about half an hour before the second bomb went off. In the photo you can us looking across the street. The second bomb went off just two stores down from Max Brenner.

"We were obviously very saddened by the events that happened on Monday. We had a lot of people from home (Australia) contacting us to make sure we were okay. It was strange to think that we were in the same town as where something so awful had occurred. The video and footage we saw over the internet was very graphic and gorey. It was dreadful, and something we will never forget.

"(Tuesday) is, surprisingly, a relatively normal day. Brendan went to work as usual today. Everyone on this side of the river seemed to be getting on with their day as usual.

"A few friends have told us that they were a bit apprehensive about using the subway today, and decided to bike instead.

"Another friend, who works at Tuftts Medical Center, had a heightened police presence outside her work and had to get her bag searched before entering.

"We feel a great sadness for those affected by the attacks, but are trying as best as possible to continue with life as normal."

Gympie Times


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