hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


April 18, 2013

City man witnessed horror of Boston Marathon bombings

Feared for members of his volunteer group at event


While LaBrode was still on the bus, a marathon runner from Hawaii said his wife and two daughters were at the finish line and he had no way to communicate with them.

”We reached them with my cell phone and he hugged me and started crying,” LaBrode said. “You see this in movies, and we were living it.”

A female runner from New Orleans was sitting next to LaBrode’s wife, telling her she not could find her husband, who was ahead of her in the race as they both ran the marathon.

”He eventually was pulled off the road and they were reunited at the church,” LaBrode said. “We listened to news reports, and people were crying.

”We had people working together,” he said. “People were helping people, just doing the right thing. You read about it, but I saw it.”

The next three hours at the church were tense and memorable ones.

”I was able to reach some of my volunteers and instructed them to follow police orders and not to worry about the mile markers,” LaBrode said. “I told them to just get yourself to where you belong.”

At just before 7 p.m., buses arrived at the church and, with a police escort, brought runners and volunteers to their destinations.

”I’ve been at the marathon for 25 years and there’s always been a police presence, but I’d never seen anything like this,” LaBrode said. “When we got to Boston, I saw armored vehicles, guys in fatigues with automatic weapons, dogs, any kind of law enforcement you can imagine. We passed heavily armed units ... fingers on their triggers. It really was like a scene from a movie.”

LaBrode and his wife were dropped off near where they had parked their car.

Normally, after the marathon they’d head to a pub in Brighton with other volunteers to reminisce about the day’s events. This time, they headed home to Haverhill.

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