Boston Marathon bombing – the story behind an iconic photoContinue reading.
NPR’s Peter Sagal talks about being at the Boston Marathon, and what he’d say to whoever did this
Peter Sagal, waving, runs next to William Greer around Mile 24 of the Boston Marathon, roughly 20 minutes before the bombs went off.
Oak Park resident Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s news quiz show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!,” crossed the Boston Marathon finish line minutes before the first bomb exploded.
We talked to the avid marathoner Wednesday about his experience:
Q. Where were you when the bombs went off?
A. I was about 100 yards beyond the finish line. I’d just crossed with my running partner, William Greer, a legally blind runner who I was guiding. I think we reached the place where they were handing out water when we heard this tremendous boom — the loudest boom I’d ever heard. It sounded like a car crash. We all spun around and saw this white plume of smoke going up just on the other side of the finish line.
Q. What did you think had happened?
A. There are two kinds of people in the world. The first kind goes, “Oh my God! That must be a horrible bomb explosion!” The other kind of person, of whom I am apparently one, says to himself, “I’m sure it was nothing. What are the odds of it being a bomb? That would never happen.” All I was thinking was that was really loud and big for anything that’s easily explainable. It was clear that people were immediately worried.
Q. What did you do next?
A. I had this blind runner who I was responsible for, who wasn’t feeling very well. I needed to get him back to his wife. We didn’t know what had happened. We were just going through the chute. While the paramedics were descending on the scene and applying first aid, William and I were calmly collecting our medals.
Q. When did you realize the gravity of the situation?
A. It really wasn’t until I got to the airport and I started watching the videos we’ve all seen 4 million times that I saw what the explosion was, how much damage it did, how many people were hurt. I realized I was as close as I ever want to come to anything like that. It started freaking me out. I can’t really say I almost died. It’s hard to explain. It’s sort of the feeling you get after seeing a really bad auto accident, but multiplied.
Q. Were any friends or family in the crowd?
A. My mother, my uncle and my aunt. They were near Mile 24. My mother said, “I want to go near the finish.” I said, “It’ll be too crowded. Stay back here near your brother’s apartment. It’ll be much more comfortable.” Obviously I’m glad she took my advice.
Q. How will this affect the Chicago Marathon?
A. I bet you’ll see a lot of people running it in Boston Marathon shirts.
Q. Will you still run marathons?
A. Oh yeah. William, my runner, put it in the best way: “This was a great day — except for the bombs.” I’ve run 10 marathons. I love it. The idea of giving it up because some lunatic or hate-filled guy decided it would be a good thing to attack? No.
Q. What would you say to the person or persons responsible for this?
A. F@!# you.