Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 18, 2013


Andover residents swept up in tragedy at the Marathon


Paul Kelley wasn’t far from his daughter. But in the commotion, she was gone.

“I came around the corner and saw where (the bomb) was and knew that’s exactly where Samantha was,” he said. “I freaked out and started running down there. When I got there, she wasn’t there. I couldn’t find her.”

Clark Road resident Bill Pennington, a 22-year Boston Marathon runner who has spearheaded the Feaster Five and Run For The Troops 5K in Andover for years, was at mile marker 25 when word of the explosions started to spread.

“We were getting very little information from the police. We asked them what was going on,” he said. “We were under the impression it was bombs from trash cans.”

As the runners were led down a different path off the main course, the popular rumor was that a prank had occurred a mile down the road, Pennington said. But something seemed off, he recalled.

“Commonsense told you it was pretty serious because of the police presence and helicopters,” he said. “It was obvious it was more than a prank or firecracker.”

Meanwhile, a half-mile from the finish line, Dennis Johnson was still standing in a crowd of runners, stopped in motion for about 20 to 30 minutes before being moved to another location. Cell reception was gone and answers were scarce.

Then, many of the runners were taken to buses to collect their belongings. By that time, he and his wife had exchanged text messages and he learned of their ordeal at the finish line.

Even if he couldn’t see his wife and daughter, he was relieved that they were OK, he said.

Johnson was led to the Sheraton Hotel three or four streets away from the finish line, where he joined other runners in reuniting with their families.

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