|VW native Leon at Boston Marathon bombing|
|Wednesday, April 17, 2013 1:27 PM|
BOSTON — The bombings that rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday hit particularly close to home for many Van Wert residents as a Van Wert native found himself in the midst of the chaos.
Van Wert High School graduate Craig Leon had finished the marathon in 10th-place hours before the first explosion near the finish line.
At least two bombs exploded near the end of the 26.2-mile course and Leon recalled being in the hotel lobby when the first bomb went off.
“I was actually on the ground floor just finishing up some interviews and when people started coming into race command you could tell something was wrong. At the time I didn’t know (what was going on) because I didn’t hear anything or feel anything.”
The explosions left at least three dead, including an 8-year-old boy, and more than 140 injured.
“As people started coming in from the street, that’s when we started to hear explosions. People came down from their rooms when they felt it,” continued Leon.
Many first responders have been praised because of their quick action during the chaos and Leon saw it first-hand.
“Immediately the hotel went into lockdown,” he said. “It was basically in lockdown for the next six hours. You couldn’t get in and you couldn’t get out. Our phones quit working. The park right across from the hotel was kind of ground zero, where all the medical situations were taking place with the finish line being just around the corner.”
Despite being only several hundred meters from where the bombs were detonated, those in the hotel lobby, including Leon, had no idea what was going on outside.
“Everybody was kind of on edge because there was talk of other bombs and that kind of thing. So you didn’t really know what to expect or what was going on,” he continued.
The talk of other bombs became a reality when as many as two unexploded bombs were also found near the end of the 26.2-mile course. Police officers made sure Leon’s hotel was safe, however.
“They had armed officers at every opening because we were at race headquarters. We had all the race results and people were in our hotel. There wasn’t a way to get in or out. We were in the lobby for probably an hour or an hour-and-a-half. They wanted everybody to stay in the lobby and out of their rooms until they were able to sweep the building,” Leon recalled.
To make matters even more unnerving, a member of Leon’s group was unaccounted for.
“I had a friend who I ran with at Ohio University. There was one person in our group who wasn’t accounted for, and it was him. We knew he would be (finishing the race) about that time (that the bombs went off), just because of his other times,” he said.
Fortunately, Leon’s friend was one of the 17,000 runners, out of the 23,000-runner field, who finished before the bombings.
“There was some tension before we could find out that he was OK. He probably finished 10 minutes earlier, and he had just picked up his bag. He was maybe a block-and-a-half away when he heard everything.”
Despite being so close to the action, Leon explained that he learned of the happenings just like most of the nation, through the television, due to the lockdown.