The sound of the explosion “is the least of the worries,” she said. “You see the smoke and say, That wasn’t supposed to happen.’”
Samantha Kelley and her friend, Rachel Huntley, both 18-year-old seniors at Andover High School, were standing on the street against the railing just a few feet in front of the first bomb that exploded. The force of the blast knocked Samantha off her feet, she said.
“I remember hearing something so extremely loud that my hearing completely ... it just went out,” she said. “I fell to the ground and went numb, and I didn’t know what happened.”
Then, some 500 feet down Boylston Street, the second bomb went off.
“Another one went up and then ... pandemonium,” Cheryl Johnson said. “People were pushing through the barriers, jumping over them and running away from the finish line. Then, police jumped in and directed everybody down the side streets.”
Johnson said as she and her daughter moved away from the marathon path, unaware of her husband’s whereabouts, she felt safe — “safe as we could be. Who knew where the next explosion was coming from?”
Not far from the explosions, Lincoln Street resident Lisa Doucett watched the smoke clouds rising from the finish line — a threshold she had just crossed minutes earlier.
At first, she wasn’t sure what was happening. She didn’t have any of her belongings yet. But other runners around her started getting text messages and calls on their cell phones from people watching the events unfolding on TV.
“News travels fast,” she said. “It was pretty immediate.”
Samantha Kelly was among those calling family from the scene. Once she was back on her feet and had regained her hearing, she called her mother, Lori, as she frantically searched for her father.
“She was screaming into the phone, ‘Mom! Oh my God, a bomb went off!’” Lori Kelly said. “It was really hard to contain myself. But I said, ‘Samantha, find everybody and run.’ She was screaming, ‘I can’t find Dad! I can’t find Uncle Michael!’”