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Local News

April 17, 2013

Area man: Blast victims 'banded together'

Otego volunteer was at finish line

The timing couldn’t have been worse when two bombs tore through the crowds at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, according to an Otego man who has been volunteer at the race for 22 years.

“Having run in marathons myself and being an average marathoner, we know that probably the most populated time of the race was right about the time that this all happened, because it’s when most of the average runners come in,” said Harry Tripp, 68, who has spent the last 12 years working from a lifeguard’s chair near the finish line to direct runners to water, blankets or family-rendezvous spots.

“We’re looking at anywhere from a thousand to 1,500 people a minute coming through the finish line,” he said. “So it really was the most-crowded time of the run.”

“My guess would be whoever did this was well aware this was probably a time that would be the most populated.”

Tripp estimated he was about 120 yards from the site of the first blast, working with another volunteer.

“I’ve been through earthquakes before — I come from California — and this basically felt like a small tremor,” he said by phone Tuesday.

“Initially, we looked at each other and we were aware that, perhaps a month ago, there was a gas explosion in (Boston’s) Back Bay that was caused by the gas company,” he added.

Tripp a semi-retired telecommunications engineer and former marathoner and triathlete, said that when the second blast occurred, he and his partner immediately abandoned the lifeguard chair, whose seat is 7 feet off the ground.

“At that point in time, people — not just the thousands that were passing the finish line, but … all of the onlookers that were up in the grandstands — were coming at us,” he said. “We were looking at probably two or three thousand people trying to get away from the blast area.”

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