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N.H. runner: ‘All hell broke loose’ after Boston Marathon explosions

  • People react to a second explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe,  John Tlumacki)

    People react to a second explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

  • People react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe,  John Tlumacki)

    People react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan)

    Medical workers aid injured people at the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan)

  • In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, spectators and runners run from what was described as twin explosions that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston.  Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/WBZTV) MANDATORY CREDIT

    In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, spectators and runners run from what was described as twin explosions that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/WBZTV) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • A Boston police officer clears Boylston Street following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria at the finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    A Boston police officer clears Boylston Street following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria at the finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • An unidentified Boston Marathon runner is comforted as she cries in the aftermath of two blasts which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

    An unidentified Boston Marathon runner is comforted as she cries in the aftermath of two blasts which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Medical responders run an injured man past the finish line the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    Medical responders run an injured man past the finish line the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

    Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

  • One of the blast sites on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon is investigated by two people in protective suits in the wake of two blasts in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

    One of the blast sites on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon is investigated by two people in protective suits in the wake of two blasts in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

    Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

  • People react to a second explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe,  John Tlumacki)
  • People react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe,  John Tlumacki)
  • Medical workers aid injured people at the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan)
  • In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, spectators and runners run from what was described as twin explosions that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston.  Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/WBZTV) MANDATORY CREDIT
  • A Boston police officer clears Boylston Street following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria at the finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • An unidentified Boston Marathon runner is comforted as she cries in the aftermath of two blasts which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Medical responders run an injured man past the finish line the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)
  • One of the blast sites on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon is investigated by two people in protective suits in the wake of two blasts in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
  • Women react as they walk from the area where there was an explosion after the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

Sean Haggerty was about to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon when he saw an explosion in front of him.

As “all hell broke loose,” the New Hampshire state police trooper did the only thing he knew how to do – turned around to help. Haggerty asked a stranger for his belt and used it to tie a tourniquet around an injured woman’s leg.

The 44-year-old was one of many New Hampshire runners in Boston yesterday, as tragedy halted the marathon and Patriots Day celebrations.

A Hopkinton man turned around to see smoke billowing from the finish line, just 15 minutes after he had crossed it. A Penacook man heard the blasts as he strolled through Boston Public Garden with his family. A New Hampshire Supreme Court justice saw two bloody men run by him, asking people to donate blood.

Some had already finished the race when the marathon was interrupted by tragedy. Others were stopped before they could finish and redirected as authorities cleared the scene of deadly explosions near the finish line.

Haggerty initially thought the first explosion he heard was planned, perhaps a blast from a ceremonial cannon. But when he felt the blast, he knew it was a bomb. Confirmation came 10 seconds later with the second blast.

Haggerty, who’s run the Boston Marathon nine times before, turned back to help and found a woman bleeding heavily. He asked a bystander for his belt and used it for a tourniquet on the woman’s leg. When wheelchairs arrived, Haggerty and another man put the woman in one and got her to an ambulance.

“I’ve been through first aid and trauma (training) with the state police, and she was pretty obviously
. . . she was certainly in shock,” he said.

He made the drive back to New Hampshire yesterday evening with two other state troopers, Scott Gilbert, 48, and Jeff Ladieu, 38. Gilbert was running his second Boston Marathon, Ladieu his first. Both crossed the finish line about 15 minutes before the explosion when they heard the news.

“It became very chaotic very quickly,” Gilbert said.

Ron Abramson

Attorney Ron Abramson of Bow and an amputee runner he was guiding were at mile 25 when they noticed something was wrong. “That’s where you expect the final push, and it didn’t look like that,” said Abramson, who was running his fourth Boston Marathon. “People were milling about, and (the race) kind of came to a strange halt.”

Abramson and the runner he was with were directed away from the finish line and learned from the crowd that there had been an explosion. “It went viral from those who (did know),” he said.

Abramson had intended to gather with friends who’d also done the race but said the police discouraged people from gathering in groups. “Apparently groups are subject to being targeted,” he said.

Brian Collins

Brian Collins, 57, of Canterbury had a mix of emotions yesterday.

Yesterday was his 34th Boston Marathon – 23 in a row – and he was pleased with his time of three hours and 31 minutes, especially since he’d had Achilles surgery in May. “I was really, really, really happy, and then (the explosions) just kind of take everything out of it,” he said.

Collins and his son were already in their car headed home when they heard the first explosion. “My son said that sounds like a bomb, and I pooh-poohed it,” he said. “I said it’s probably just construction. Then we heard the second one and the air filled with sirens.”

Collins’s time qualified him for next year’s Boston Marathon and he intends to be there.

“This doesn’t make me nervous,” he said. “If you let people alter your life in this way, it’s not worth living really.”

James Bassett

Supreme Court Justice James Bassett of Canterbury had finished the marathon an hour before the deadly explosions and was at a friend’s hotel room several blocks away with his wife, Ellen. They heard about the explosions from someone in the hotel lobby who received a text message from a friend.

Since public transportation was down, they had to walk to their car in Fanueil Hall, through the city and the Boston Common. Police cars and ambulances flew by, but the biggest indications that something had gone wrong were two men with blood on them who ran through the crowd yelling for people to go to the hospital and donate blood. It wasn’t until the Bassetts turned on the radio as they drove out of the city that they grasped the full extent of what had happened, James said.

“It was clear that things were bad, (but) I mean, we didn’t really know how bad because the cell phones weren’t working at that time, and only when we got in the car and . . . listened to the radio did we get a full appreciation of what had happened,” he said.

This was Bassett’s first time running the Boston Marathon since 1982. He began running marathons again when he turned 50 six years ago. It’s sad that such a meaningful event for so many people is now marred by tragedy, he said.

“For so many people, it’s such a special day for them, the runners and their families, and then to have something so tragic occur is horrible,” he said. “We’re fine, (but) just sad there are so many people who aren’t.”

The Brighams

Peter Brigham of Penacook, a veteran of at least seven marathons in Boston, was more excited than ever about this year’s race, since his son, Nate, was running it for his first time.

Nate, a Merrimack Valley High School graduate, came back to New Hampshire with his local running club from Baltimore, where he works at a community college. He finished the race in two hours and 36 minutes, with his 55-year-old father crossing the line about 45 minutes later. They both had gathered with their wives at the Public Garden in the heart of the city when the explosions hit.

“It was loud and it definitely didn’t sound like just a car exhaust,” said Nate, 30. “But we didn’t immediately see smoke and we didn’t immediately hear sirens. We just didn’t know. We heard one right after the other and everybody sort of looked over their shoulders and wondered. But in our general area, there was not a lot of chaos.”

It wasn’t until the group returned to their car that they realized the magnitude of what had happened.

“I asked my buddy and he started seeing things on Twitter,” Nate Brigham said. “Then we knew.”

Added his father, “We had no idea what was going on, and then we saw the ambulances racing by and it wasn’t until we got in the car and people started calling us, texting us and everything like that. My parents from Vermont called, and I mean it was just crazy and the cell phone coverage was really spotty.”

The blasts brought back the harsh memories from 9/11, when everyone remembered where they were when the planes struck the towers. Nate was a college student at Tufts University at the time, just miles from the Boston Marathon finish line.

“I think this is really sad, when you think that as a runner this is our national holiday,” Nate said. “It’s really bad to think that this could happen on a day like this. I was in college for September 11, and you can’t describe it, and now it’s almost like we expect it to happen.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight of Hopkinton finished the race in three hours and 53 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, as he shivered from the wind and waited to pick up his bag, he heard the explosion. About a block behind him, he saw “this gray smoke billowing out down by the finish line.”

“It was pretty clear it had to be a bomb,” Knight, 68, said yesterday as he headed home. “I was trying to think could it be anything else? But I couldn’t think of any other explanation. It had to be a bomb. And then the second one went off and there was more gray smoke.”

Knight, who was running his seventh Boston Marathon, said he sent a text message to his wife as soon as he found his bag, then sent about 30 more trying to arrange a place where they could meet. He described the scene as chaotic but said many seemed more confused than panicked.

“Emergency vehicles were coming and going everywhere, heading back toward the scene of the accident. There were all these people walking down the streets sort of trying to figure out where to go and what to do,” he said.

Knight said he typically takes the MBTA to meet his family after the marathon. Yesterday, he walked and his wife picked him up about a mile from the finish line.

“It’s normally such a happy event, people celebrating that they’re getting to the finish line. Everybody’s celebrating,” he said. “And then it turns into this tragedy.”

Walter Fortier

Walter Fortier, 63, of Concord, completed the marathon about 30 minutes before the explosions. He was on Arlington Street about four or five blocks from Copley Square when he heard the explosion. He had not yet met up with his family who came to watch him, but they found each other fairly quickly.

“We had not yet met at the family meeting area, so there was a little concern on both sides as to what our dispositions were, but that was remedied in about 15 or 20 minutes,” Fortier said.

The explosion was very loud, and Fortier’s first thought was to look at the John Hancock tower to see if something had happened to it.

Emilee Hoover

Emilee Hoover, 32, of Franklin, was at mile 19 when the explosions hit. She and the runners around her were not aware of what had happened, she said. But the cell phone she was carrying started buzzing, and before she knew it, race officials were herding everyone to a side road, to allow the police access to the explosion site.

“Five or ten minutes after that we heard they were canceling the race,” Hoover said. Buses were eventually sent in to shuttle people out of the area, but she had a friend with a car and got a ride to her boyfriend’s apartment in South Boston.

She said her parents were there as spectators and were also unharmed.

This was Hoover’s fifth marathon. She was running to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Asked if she thought the tragedy would deter her from future races, Hoover said she was registered for a race in Los Angeles at the end of the summer and planned to run it.

“People do horrible things but you can’t let that prevent you from doing what is inherently good,” she said.

(‘Monitor’ writers Tricia Nadolny, Kathleen Ronayne, Jeremy Blackman and Ray Duckler also contributed to this story.)

A previous version of this article misstated Ron Abramson’s first name.

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