Posted: Apr 15, 2013 3:27 PM by Drew Trafton - MTN News
BILLINGS - A Billings man running in the Boston Marathon crossed the finish line moments before two explosions killed two people and injured at least 23 more.
James Berve, who was running in his second Boston Marathon, said he was in the five-block long finisher's chute when the first explosion happened at approximately 2 p.m. local time.
"I heard the first explosion go off -- a loud boom --and I turned around, because after you cross the finish line you're walking away from the finish line, so I spun around and looked and saw the mushroom cloud of smoke," said Berve. "About that time, the second explosion went off and I saw that smoke cloud go up."
Berve said he and the other runners remained unaware of what had exactly happened for several minutes and that they did not know that the explosion took place at the finish line.
Berve said rumors concerning the severity of the damage then started circulating from different runners and spectators with cell phones.
The Billings man said he then gathered his personal belongings and walked back to his hotel, located only a block from the explosion.
However, due to the length of the finisher's chute and the damage from the explosion, he was forced to walk somewhere between 8 to 10 blocks because the direct route was shut down due to the marathon.
It was upon his arrival at the hotel he first recalled seeing the damage from the explosion.
"I saw people covered in blood," said Berve. "They were OK. They were obviously just at the wrong spot at the wrong time. In the elevator was when I actually heard it was at the finish line."
Berve's wife, Julie, who had dropped out of the race due to an injury, was waiting for him in their room."I can see the triage tent, which was the medical tent. Right now, it's got about seven or eight ambulances backed up to it," said Berve. "And on the end of the street, there's probably 30 or 40 ambulances just staged, waiting for their turn to go to the triage tent."
Berve estimated that around 10,000 people likely did not finish the marathon due to the explosion.
Six people from Billings and around 40 others from around the state participated in the marathon.
Berve said he saw several Montanans on the course during the marathon, but did not see any of them following the race.