Dusters nearby Boston bombing
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · April 26, 2013

The first explosion that rocked the Boston Marathon on April 15 happened about 20 yards from the front door of the Charlesmark Hotel, where West Branch veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Duster and husband Keith felt the blast shake the entire building.

At first, Keith though a transformer blew, Jennifer said, but the pandemonium that followed told the couple it was much more serious.

“We thought it was some sort of bomb,” she said. Later, law enforcement would find the top to one of the pressure-cooker bombs on the roof of the Charlesmark, which sits at the finish line of the famous foot race.

Duster said they and other hotel visitors and staff were evacuated out the back of the building and into an alley.

“People were running and screaming and whatnot,” the doctor said.

Though a veterinarian, Duster said she thought about offering her medical expertiese, but noticed scores of doctors and nurses from the medical tent already flooding the blast site.

“I thought I would be more in the way,” she said.

Keith ran the marathon and finished at 3:02.41, so the couple had left the finish line about an hour before the blasts.

“It was such a senseless, random act of violence,” she said. She said that even if the bombers had a political reason for the attack, the Boston Marathon is not a political target. “The whole point of (it) is that everybody who makes it across that line is a winner. They targeted completely compassionate and friendly people. I’m staggered by that.”

She said that, prior to the bombings, the marathon was a “phenomenal experience.”

“The city is so friendly and welcoming,” Duster said. “The set up … it’s so well done. And I can’t count the number of volunteers. I’ve got nothing but good things to say for the marathon.”

The Boston Marathon had 27,000 runners this year, and Duster thinks it might be “twice as big” next year as runners sign up “in solidarity.”

“I think they picked the wrong group of people to do this to,” she said. “(Runners) are loyal and outgoing. My husband and I are trying to find all the positive, versus all of the horror afterward.”

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