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JOE BIDDLE: Local preacher's first-hand account of Boston Marathon attack

The Boston Marathon turned into the Boston Massacre Monday.

Forest Hills Baptist Church’s senior pastor Sam Boyd had just completed one of the most famous marathons in the country when he was shaken by the loudest blast he has ever heard.

Boyd was with his family on what was to be a festive occasion. He would run the marathon with his son-in-law.

Sam’s wife, Carolyn, was there to cheer her husband and son-in-law on. Their daughter, Whitney, had their 3-year-old daughter with them.

It was a sun-splashed day, a Chamber of Commerce spring day in the Northeast. It was a festive, relaxing day as runners made their way around the grueling route.

Festive, that is, until theirs and thousands of other lives were changed forever by a cowardly act of terror.

Boyd and his son-in-law, Jeremy Lloyd, had just completed the 26.2-mile run. They gathered their personal belongings and stopped to put on their clothes just before the first of two blasts detonated.

They were one block away from the start/finish line at 655 Boylston St. The scene quickly became chaotic. People were crammed into a Copley Square section near the start/finish line that made rapid escape more difficult, if not impossible.

“The concussion was horrible. The ground shook,” Boyd said from his Boston hotel room Monday night.

“We had just finished and were walking up the street. We picked up our clothes off the bus and stopped in front of the Marathon Sports store and a candy shop to put our pants on. It really messed up a lot of people,” Boyd said.

Hours after the two explosions, there were thousands of yellow bags filled with runners’ personal items that had not been claimed. They were being protected by National Guardsmen as nightfall was closing in.

Witnesses saw body parts flying through the air. Blood was visible on the street near the first explosion.

At one point Monday night, news outlets were reporting three dead and more than 130 injured. One of the victims was an 8-year old boy. Hundreds were injured, many of them taken to local hospitals.

It happened on Patriots Day, a state holiday. It’s a widely celebrated occasion. Thousands of Bostonians come out to cheer the runners on. A reported 27,000 runners started the race.

Some 6,000 runners who were not injured were not able to finish once the bombs went off. The 60-year-old Boyd was among the 17,584 runners who completed the run.

“The police re-routed them away from the scene and they didn’t get to finish,” Boyd said of those runners who were ushered away from the scene.

“My son-in-law went over to get some balloons and a cop came over and yelled for Whitney and him to run,” Boyd said. “He had just finished the marathon and was struggling just to walk.”

Downtown businesses closed up immediately. Restaurants were shut. People were walking around with dazed looks. Families were trying to find their members.

“It was pretty sad, really,” Boyd said. “The sirens were really loud and scary. They started moving people out. It was awfully cramped on that street.”

Boyd will compete in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hi this fall. This was Boyd’s sixth Boston Marathon.

He says it may be his last.

“I’m not going to do this again,” he said. “There are just too many people. And this is a mean world; we saw that today.”

Sports Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at

Posted on: 4/16/2013


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