By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Roger McMillin could see the end of the Boston Marathon. The New Albany resident was seconds away from finishing in his third straight Boston run.
Then came the first of the two explosions that shook the marathon, eventually killing three people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard, and wounding more than 170 others.
“I was as good as finished, had noting else on my mind but finishing,” McMillin said from Baltimore as he awaited his flight back to Mississippi. “The first bomb went off and I kind of slowed up in shock. It looked like smoke shot out and like the whole front of the building was falling. Ten or 15 seconds later, the other bomb went off behind me.”
Officials let McMillin, 67 – a retired state appeals court judge – and close-by runners finish the run right in the middle of it all. He had to cross by the original explosion. He said he didn’t get hit by anything from the explosion. His biggest concern was finding his daughter, Sally.
Corinth’s Kenneth Williams, 71, was actually wearing a “Right on Hereford; Left on Boylston” (site of the explosions) shirt, referencing the final two turns of the run.
“I saw smoke going across the sky,” said Williams, less than a mile from the finish. “We stood there about an hour-and-a-half.”
McMillin saw people pushing over the barricades, getting their legs tangled in them, getting shoved out of the way. After finishing, he says officials diverted everyone away from the scene.
“It was way too much to take in, in that little bit of time,” McMillin said. “There were ambulances everywhere, stretchers and wheel chairs pouring out of there. It was just chaos, controlled chaos, but chaos. Like a war zone, like nothing I had ever seen before in my life.
McMillin compared both blows to cannons fired at football games, but louder. The low afternoon temperatures, not to mention a 26-mile run that ended the way it did, takes its toll on the body and McMillin couldn’t manage to use his cell phone in the scramble.
It wasn’t until he got three blocks back to his hotel that he could start to relax.
“Thank God,” McMillin said, before pausing to compose himself. “My daughter was there, so we were reunited.”