WKU reacts to the Boston bombings

Interdisciplinary studies instructor Cort Basham has competed in numerous marathons. But above all of them, the Boston Marathon is his favorite.

“This was my third Boston Marathon,” Basham said. “I usually try to run in races I’ve never done before, but Boston is a whole other animal.”

The trip served as a vacation of sorts for Basham.

“I wasn’t racing, I was just running along; it was a glorified long run,” he said. “I took my mom. She had never been to Boston, and we were just kind of seeing the city.”

Monday, April 15 was a day of celebration in Boston — Patriot’s Day. Many businesses were closed, and thousands of participants and spectators turned out for the annual marathon.

“It’s a day-long event; it’s kind of like tailgating, but it’s literally all day,” Basham said. “The city that day is all about the marathon.”

After finishing his run, Basham and his mother searched for a place to eat nearby.

Then the first explosion happened.

“Everything sort of froze,” he said. “Everyone froze….we were just one block away; we didn’t have line of sight, but we were close…after the second one, people started streaming from around the corner….it was not believable — surreal. It was a movie.”

Basham said at first the idea that the explosion and the resulting smoke were an act of terror didn’t sink in.

“My first thought was, it was such a huge sound,” Basham said. “It sounded like you were bringing a building down with explosions. But I knew that wasn’t it….it’s marathon day; there is no way they would have a noise that loud, that would be terrifying. So I knew it wasn’t for a construction reason. Within 15 seconds though, the second explosion went off, and then you knew, this is something else. It was bombs, and at that point you are waiting for the third, or the fourth or the fifth. Those next two to three minutes were really scary, because you just kept waiting for more. People on the street are crying and calling people, of course.”

Basham texted his wife moments after the event and before the Boston Police Department shut down cell phone service to prevent the possibility of more hidden explosives being armed remotely. He told her what happened, and for her to post a Facebook status and tag him in it to let everybody know he was okay.

“I got to her before the news did, which was important,” Basham said. “I can’t imagine watching that and not knowing. I was very thankful I was able to get that text to her before it broke on TV.”

Basham said as soon as word hit of what had happened, he received more than 40 messages in just a few minutes, but didn’t answer them to conserve his phone battery.

He and his mother eventually boarded a train and rode out of town, staying with a friend. He returned to Bowling Green Tuesday.

While Emma Charpentier, a senior from Cotuit, Mass., was in Bowling Green when the bombs went off, many of her friends and family were in Boston.

Charpentier said she found out about it right after it happened, through a news website. Although her hometown is an hour outside of the city, she said Boston still feels like home.

“It just didn’t seem real,” she said. “You see stuff like that happen every once and a while but when its home, it’s like, it doesn’t seem real. It’s heartbreaking.”

She said her first reaction was to make sure her friends and family were okay, but then continued following the coverage to figure out what happened.

Charpentier said she noticed many of the stories reported were about the acts of bravery and selflessness in the wake of tragedy, like runners from the marathon running to the hospital to donate blood.

“I think that it kind of brings out more of a supportive and closer atmosphere than anything else,” she said.

She said she wasn’t at all surprised to see people from the community helping.

“In New England, we’re kind of looked at as being very distant and cold, and everybody jokes around about that, but…it’s such a unified place,” she said.

Because Patriot’s Day is usually such a huge celebration in Boston, Charpentier said the whole event was especially unfathomable.

“You never think that such a special occasion, such a happy time is going to be interrupted with something like that,” she said.

Looking back, Basham said both the emergency response and the response of many of the runners in the race who put themselves in danger to help the injured bolstered his faith in humanity.

“Not only was the immediate response very affirming, as a human being, but so was watching the response of the Bostonians and Americans in general, and I think you are going to see more of the same,” he said. “People were very organized. It was chaos, but people were not violent or shoving people to get out of the way. Streets were empty; police took control.”

“I’m very affirmed in the response,” Basham said. “That can never replace or minimize the losses or get that back, those who died and had amputations. But the response has been huge and will continue to be huge. I think next year’s marathon will be a celebration of marathoning, what it’s about — the human spirit.”