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URI student finishes Boston Marathon just minutes before explosions

April 18, 2013

Rhode Island authorities have offered assistance to Massachusetts officials as they deal with the tragedy that struck Boston Monday afternoon during the Boston Marathon.
At least three people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in what officials are classifying as an act of terrorism when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 117th marathon at 2:50 p.m.
One of those killed was an 8-year-old boy from Dorchester, Mass., according to the Boston Globe.
Shannon Long, a resident of Newport and a University of Rhode Island graduate student, finished the marathon seven minutes before the blasts. While she was uninjured, she said the experience was terrifying.
“My family was standing right in that area until right after I crossed,” Long said of the area where the explosions occurred. ‘They came over to try and meet me and it was terrifying I just heard two blasts in a row. I couldn’t find my family I couldn’t find my boyfriend, Dennis, and his family.”
Long said it was difficult to contact family and friends because cell phone service went down in the midst of the chaos.
“Everyone was going crazy with fear,” she said. “I’ve never seen so many terrified people in my entire life. Luckily my family wasn’t standing at the spot where they had been the whole day.”
Long finished the marathon in four hours, six minutes and 30 seconds. This was her second time running the marathon, this time running for the Miles for Miracles team which raises money for the Boston Children’s Hospital.
“It was such a positive and amazing experience until that happened and it’s such a tragedy,” she said.
Long said she doesn’t think she’ll run the marathon again next year.
“I don’t think I would put my family in that situation,” she said. “I carry some guilt because I put my family and loved ones in that situation and they took a picture of me right under the flag seven minutes before the explosion happened.”
Long and her family were staying at the Copley Square Hotel which was evacuated when they returned to collect their belongings. She said she and her family then walked two miles to her sister’s apartment and was still in Boston Tuesday, waiting to get her belongings.
“It’s crazy, it’s like war zone,” she said of Boston on Tuesday.
Long hoped to return to Newport on Tuesday.
“I can’t wait to get back home to Rhode Island,” she said. “This makes you think, ‘It’s real, it can happen anywhere,’ even somewhere as innocent as the Boston Marathon.”
According to Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, no Rhode Islanders running in the race were reported injured as of Monday night.
According to race records, published by the Boston Athletic Association, at least 16 residents of South County were registered participants.
Chafee said in a statement Monday that representatives from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, National Guard and state police are in close contact with their counterparts in Massachusetts and “have offered their full support and cooperation during this difficult time.”
Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langevin issued a statement Monday night on the incident.
“My thoughts are with all of the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions and their loved ones on this terrible day,” he said. “In the midst of a horrifying scene, with many Rhode Islanders in attendance, we can be thankful for the bravery and selflessness of emergency responders at the event, other medical personnel treating the wounded, and ordinary Americans whose first instincts were to do whatever they could to help one another. I am also grateful for the vigilance of law enforcement working to take all possible precautions and avoid jumping to conclusions as they track down every lead to find whoever did this and bring them to justice.”

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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