April 15, 2013 was going to be a day Lisa Smith, Tracy Eaves and Laura Carlson would always remember.
All three Michiana women were competing in the Boston Marathon and were optimistic about finishing the race in good time.
But, just minutes after they crossed the finish line, two horrific explosions rattled the race.
"I just heard this boom that just jolted you," said Niles resident Tracy Eaves, who finished about ten minutes before the explosion and was a few blocks away. "I turned right around and the smoke was just billowing dark and it probably went up three, four stories. It was a lot of smoke. And, then ten seconds later, another huge boom and a cloud of smoke."
Eaves initially thought the booms were celebratory cannons. But, when she saw the large amount of smoke and debris, she started to realize something was wrong. Eaves says race workers began to usher the crowd away from the explosion, directing them not to go back toward the finish line.
Laura Carlson had finished shortly before Eaves and also heard the explosion from several blocks away.
“You could see in spectators and runners just this look of shock and sadness of what happened and fear,” she said.
Carlson and Eaves’ thoughts immediately turned to one of the other runners in their group, Lisa Smith, who was supposed to cross the finish line around the same time as the explosion.
Smith ended up finishing about two minutes before.
“I remember turning around looking at it going ‘Oh my God’,” Smith said. “Was it a building coming down? You could see all this debris and smoke two or three stories high.”
The women met up, along with a fourth person in their group, at their nearby hotel.
It wasn’t until they got there and turned on the television that they were able to completely grasp what happened.
“There are sirens everywhere,” Carlson said shortly after the got back to their rooms. “We can hear sirens constant, nonstop. So, it's very frightening.”
The women were able to board their 9:30 p.m. flight from Boston to Chicago Monday night – leaving with heavy hearts.
“As a runner, you work and you train very hard to get to Boston and it should be such a rewarding day and, it was,” Eaves said. “But, then you see what happened and none of that matters.”
Several other runners from Michiana also escaped the explosions unharmed.
Walkerton resident Jean Pletcher say her son, Kyle, texted her from a friend’s cell phone to let her know he was OK. They had limited contact because of cell service issues.
Jean says Kyle’s friend, Andy Williams of Middlebury, also walked away without injuries.