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Boston Marathon: One family's fears and worries

April 15, 2013|By Steve Padilla
  • Explosions at the Boston Marathon killed three people and left dozens wounded.
Explosions at the Boston Marathon killed three people and left dozens wounded. (Stuart Cahill / Boston Herald…)

They all heard the booms.

Simi Singer had completed 25 miles of her fifth Boston Marathon and was headed to the finish line. That’s where her father, Bernie Garbose, waited. Her mother, Freda Garbose, was a mile beyond, where runners got their medals.

For a time on Monday, daughter and parents would lose track of each other. For a time, no one would know what was going on. In time, the worry would abate, at least a bit, after a text sent to Singer’s son at Los Alamitos High School in California.

But first came the booms. Freda Garbose likened them to “a plane breaking the sound barrier.” To Singer, the sounds were loud but their significance unclear. Bernie Garbose, about 30 yards from the finish line, heard the noise and saw smoke, but couldn’t comprehend what had happened at first.

PHOTOS: Explosions at Boston Marathon

“I didn’t think anything of it until the second one went off,” he said. “That’s when I ran like hell.”

Up the road, his wife noticed a flurry of activity — police running, an ambulance rushing, people suddenly moving around quickly. And police, more and more police. Volunteers told everyone they had to clear out. Then came the news: There’d been an explosion at the finish line.

“Then I felt terror because my husband was near the finish line,” Freda Garbose said.

About a half mile from the finish line police officers halted the runners -- who had no idea the roadblock was prompted by the booms. Then one of the runners got a text about the explosions. That, Singer said, was when runners began to panic, desperate to contact loved ones at the finish line.

Singer, of Los Alamitos, knew her parents, who live in Massachusetts, were waiting for her. Her phone dead, Singer, 51, borrowed a phone to text her 14-year-old son, Matthew, at Los Alamitos High to relay a message to her mother.

VIDEO: Boston marathon explosion

Freda Garbose said she got a voicemail from her grandson: “Grandma, I spoke to Mom. She wanted me to say she was OK.”

Singer and her parents would learn later that Matthew left the voicemail before hearing of the attacks; he did not know the importance of the message he was passing along.

Freda and Bernie Garbose met up at their hotel about 30 minutes after the bombings. The runners halted at the roadblock, meanwhile, were stranded for at least an hour and getting cold just standing there in skimpy running togs. Bostonians brought out warm coats, along with food and water, Singer said.

It took Singer three hours to reunite with her parents.


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