UC Berkeley students, marathon runners share experiences about Boston explosions

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When runner Michelle Nacouzi heard the first explosion, she thought it was the sound of celebratory cannon fire. It wasn’t until she saw the plume of smoke and the panicked crowd that she realized something was amiss.

Nacouzi is one of at least 11 UC Berkeley students and Berkeley residents confirmed to be uninjured in the aftermath of the deadly bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

The historic Boston Marathon came to an abrupt halt after two bombs exploded near the finish line on Boylston Street. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 170, with approximately 60 people in serious or critical condition, CNN reported.

“We’re relieved that so far, it appears that members of the UC Berkeley community that were in Boston are safe and sound,” said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof. “At the same time, we all mourn the loss of the innocent lives that were lost in this horrible attack, and we hope that the perpetrators will soon be brought to justice.”

Nacouzi, a UC Berkeley junior, finished her first marathon alongside her sister. After passing the finish line, Nacouzi heard the first bomb go off and heard the second explosion a few seconds later.

“When we heard the second explosion and saw all the smoke, we realized what was happening and started rushing the opposite direction,” Nacouzi said. “The scariest part was thinking another bomb might go off somewhere closer to us and not knowing what was going to happen next or if your family was hurt.”

Nolan McPeek-Bechtold, another UC Berkeley junior, crossed the finish line and left the event before the first explosion occurred. He said that a police officer at the Boston Metro informed him of the incident.

“I was mostly just in disbelief that it happened,” McPeek-Bechtold said. “Everything about the race, especially the thousands of volunteers and hundreds of thousands of spectators, was so positive that it was hard to imagine that something so awful could happen.”

McPeek-Bechtold said he plans to run in the Boston Marathon next year because he believes that runners should not be deterred by the tragedy.

“I think it is important that everyone is careful and vigilant to ensure the future safety of the race, but also that we still come together and celebrate the race and honor those who suffered in this year’s tragedy,” McPeek-Bechtold said. “The race is not just about individual runners, but about the 27,000 runners and 500,000 spectators who come together and make the 26.2 miles of road from Hopkinton to Boston come to life for one day a year.”

The Daily Californian is still looking for UC Berkeley students, faculty and alumni as well as Berkeley residents who participated in the Boston Marathon. If you have any further information, please email [email protected]

Contact Seif Abdelghaffar at [email protected].