Mt. Ararat High School grad describes ‘surreal’ scene near where bombs went off

Posted April 16, 2013, at 9:54 a.m.
Last modified April 16, 2013, at 10:17 a.m.

BOSTON, Mass. — Two bombs exploded on packed streets Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, something a Mainer who witnessed the explosions described as “surreal” and “like a movie.”

Casey Pola, who works on and lives near Boylston Street, where the first bomb went off, said she watched what happened from a friend’s apartment about a half a block away from the explosion.

“We didn’t even have time to think about what it was, we all just ran to the window,” said Pola, a graduate of Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham.

She said they watched from the fifth-floor apartment window as smoke filled the streets and people screamed.

“It was like a movie. Everyone was running and screaming and getting away from the area. We could tell something was wrong. We could see Copley Square where the medic tents are, and medics and police started running toward the explosions,” Pola said. “We turned on the news and it took 10 minutes before we knew what was going on. Some people were running with wheelchairs and stretchers. People were missing limbs.”

Authorities said three people were killed, while the number of injured grew to more than 130 by Monday evening.

Police reportedly defused other explosive devices also found in the area.

It is still unknown who was behind the bombings.

The two blasts on Boylston Street near the finish line of the marathon exploded within 20 seconds of each other, about 100 yards apart.

Pola, a public relations professional who works at Cone Communications on Boylston Street, close to where the bombs exploded, said she and her friends initially stayed in the apartment as another loud boom went off. This time is was just a Fire Department water cannon.

Although they didn’t speak to police, a neighbor relayed to them that no one was being ordered to leave, but if they did, they couldn’t return for 24 hours because the area was blocked off. Pola and her friends stayed in the apartment, while they packed their belongings and waited as military-style police searched the area.

“It’s kind of eerie. When we left, everything was completely shut down,” she said. “[The whole area] is essentially a crime scene right now. People are walking around in disbelief.”

Earlier in the day, Pola said they had walked up and down Boylston Street several times before coming back to the apartment.

“We’re still in shock,” she said. “It’s literally like seeing a scene in a movie. It’s so surreal, so surreal.”

As they left the apartment, Pola said police had lined up all the trash cans from the city in a nearby park, searching for other bombs.

The Patriots Day marathon is one of the most prestigious races in the world, drawing about 23,000 competitive and recreational runners from around the globe. It’s one of Boston’s premier celebrations.

Now it will be remembered for something else.

“You see this stuff on TV, but it’s not suppose to happen in Boston,” Pola said. “Watching the replays on the news it doesn’t look like the same place you know.”

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