Theodore Roosevelt grad tells story of finishing Boston Marathon just prior to bombing

By Dave O'Brien | Staff Writer Published:

Kimberly Bennett said it still hasn't hit her yet, but she believes she avoided personal tragedy when she finished the Boston Marathon on Monday mere minutes prior to two bombs exploding -- killing three people and injuring nearly 200.

"They had to have been planted when I went by," Bennett said Tuesday. "To think they were planted when I ran past, I don't think that's hit me yet. That emotional trauma is unthinkable."

Bennett, who lives in Perkins Township in Erie County, is a 1996 graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent. She had just finished the marathon and sent her mother, Jane Gwinn of Kent, off to catch a 2:51 p.m. train to the airport for a flight back home to Ohio.

Bennett, her fiancee and friends were gathered at the Westin Copley Place Hotel to celebrate when they heard a loud boom at 2:52 p.m.

"No one thought 'The finish line just got bombed,'" she said. Twelve seconds later, they heard the second blast.

"We said 'Ooh, that's probably not what we were thinking (it was),' but we still weren't thinking catastrophe," Bennett said.

The group watched as runners and spectators ran away from the blasts, then as ambulances and police charged into the aftermath, she said. Inside the Westin, the group "knew we were safe" but trapped 16 miles away from their hotel, fresh clothes, cash and vehicles.

A police SWAT team blocked entry to the hotel, and those who left could not return. Bennett spent Monday night in a hotel room resting and watching police search the empty streets below for evidence.

"It was no place I wanted to be," she said.

All of Bennett's friends and fellow runners survived without injury. "My group was very, very lucky," she said.

Bennett praised marathon organizers and Boston police for "a great job of keeping everyone safe," but questioned who would bomb a marathon and why.

"Who has something against healthy people? It just doesn't make sense," she said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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