By Jeff Noble
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
While Dr. Ronald S. Dubin did not see the two explosions that stopped the Boston Marathon on Monday, he and thousands of others running in the world-famous race quickly noticed something was seriously wrong.
In the two days since the bombings, after forensic experts have meticulously checked the crime scene for bomb scraps and blood stains for any possible DNA evidence tied to known terrorists, federal investigators said they are close to identifying the individual who planted explosives at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 130 others.
The twin explosions occurred more than four hours after the start of the 117th Boston Marathon, and after more than half of the 23,000 runners had completed the race. Police said the explosions happened 12 seconds apart at 2:50 p.m.
The bombs, hidden inside black duffel bags, contained metal pellets, including nails and ball bearings, packed into 6-liter pressure cookers with timers, investigators reported.
The bomb blasts killed three spectators: an 8-year-old boy who attended the race with his family; a 29-year-old woman who was waiting to take a picture of her best friend’s boyfriend crossing the finish line, and a Boston University graduate student.
The marathon is regarded as the world’s oldest and most prestigious running race. The high profile, international event drew more than 27,000 runners to Boston this year.
Dubin, of Harrogate, Tenn., who has an office at Kentucky Orthopedic Care in Corbin and one in Middlesboro; and Dr. Michael Simons, of London, a gastroenterologist at Baptist Health Corbin hospital, were in Boston for the marathon.
Neither man was injured in the two blasts, which occurred about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart.
Office manager Karen Reese received a text message from Dubin Monday afternoon, saying he was in the latter group of runners and was in a Boston suburb, away from the site of the explosions.
Chris Jones, of the Tri-County Falls Road Runners, confirmed Monday evening that Simons finished the race earlier, and was out of the finish area before the explosions began.
In a phone interview from the Boston suburb of Newton, Mass. (where the 26.2-mile race runs through, with part of the section in Newton known as “Heartbreak Hill”), Dubin said all was well when their feet first hit the pavement.
“It was going real good, and I was in Newton, on Newton Hill. Then we saw police vehicles with their lights flashing, going real fast. Then I saw buses carrying military personnel. I talked to a fellow runner next to me, and I asked him, ‘Why are they going that fast? They’re going 60 miles per hour, and there are runners in the street?”
Then, Dubin and other racers started getting text messages and phone calls on their cell phones.
A lot of them.
“My people from Kentucky and Michigan were calling me, and then my brother called, saying, ‘Are you aware of what’s going on over there in Boston?’ I first said, ‘Aw, come on, it’s not really happening,’ and he said, ‘No, I think it’s terrorism,’ Then I got other calls about the explosion, and I said to myself, ‘This is for real. This is a marathon. This doesn’t happen,’” he stated.
Dubin texted his office in Corbin around 2:40 p.m., letting Reese know he was OK.
As of that point on the hill in Newton, Dubin knew the race was cancelled.
Around 4:30 p.m. he and the runners remaining with him were signaled by a resident of the area.
“About five minutes after we heard the race was called off, a lady on the race route brought us into her house for us to rest and learn more about the explosions. My hotel, the Colonnade Hotel on Huntington Avenue, was about two blocks away from the explosion site,” Dubin said.
In a phone interview Monday evening, Jones said he learned Simons was safe by a runner in the marathon who is a friend of the doctor’s.
“I sent Dr. Simons a text to see if he’s OK, but I didn’t hear from him earlier. But his friend in Boston sent one. He asked us to let everyone in the club know Dr. Simons was safe and not in harm’s way. We have since posted that on our Facebook page,” Jones noted.
“While we’re glad that our two hometown runners are OK, we’re distraught over those runners and their families who were affected. It’s a sad day for the running community,” he said.
CNHI News Service contributed to this story.