EASLEY—Randy Parks had just finished his fourth marathon and was waiting for his wife on a downtown Boston, MA street near the finish line when the unthinkable happened.
Two thunderous booms rocked the nearby buildings and Parks, an Easley resident, knew something was wrong.
“We immediately knew that something wasn’t right,” Parks said. “We heard the explosions and didn’t know what it was.”
The explosions Parks heard came from the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where more than 100 attendees were injured and two were confirmed dead. As of Tuesday morning, 17 of those injured were in critical condition.
Parks said his race had already concluded.
“I had finished the race about an hour before the explosions,” Parks said. “I was searching for my wife near a family gathering section about a block from the finish line.”
Initially, Parks said, there was a lot of confusion.
“In my area, there wasn’t a whole lot of confusion early on,” Parks said. “A few minutes later we started seeing people that were clearly upset leaving the area. Through word of mouth, we were kind of hearing people say that a bomb went off.”
Parks said first responders immediately took to the streets.
“It was confusing from then on,” Parks said. “Police were trying to get people off the streets and away from those buildings. It was amazing to see all the firemen and policemen racing to that area.”
Parks said the search for his wife was worrisome, and it took longer than he expected.
“It took us probably a half an hour to meet up with my wife,” Parks said. “I knew where we were supposed to meet, and I knew the bombs had exploded close to the finish line. I knew that she was not supposed to be at the finish line. When we couldn’t find each other, of course you start wondering and worrying.”
“I just had to wait until she came back to the hotel where we were staying,” he said.
Parks said he picked up a sense of urgency from those passing by who had seen the blast.
“It was extremely loud and you knew pretty quickly that something definitely wasn’t right,” Parks said. “I kept seeing people that were very clearly upset and distraught over what they had just seen. You could kind of see and overhear what they were saying while talking about some of the terrible damage that was done.”
Parks said it seemed as if spectators took the worst of the carnage.
The aftermath of the explosion resulted in lock-down security and panic in the city.
“Our hotel was right behind the finish line, so they wouldn’t let us leave the hotel last night,” Parks said. “We were sort of stuck there. There was a heightened sense of concern. We were watching local media, and they said they were getting reports of another bomb in the hotel across from us. You just worry that something else is going to happen.”
Prior to the chaos, Parks said he was having a very memorable and joyous day.
“This was my first Boston Marathon,” Parks said. “It was a beautiful day with perfect weather. It was an incredible experience and a very tough run. You certainly weren’t thinking anything like that was going to happen.”
“This is so unfortunate because the Boston Marathon is such a wonderful experience,” he continued. “You just feel so sorry for the victims. We’re just praying for the families right now.”