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Superintendent Bill Rhoades, West Linn's Harkins unharmed in Boston Marathon explosions

Rhoades was just 150 yards away from the blasts, while others saw them from a nearby hotel


The explosions that shook the Boston Marathon today were in close proximity to a number of local residents, including West Linn-Wilsonville School District Superintendent Bill Rhoades.

Two people were killed and more than two dozen were injured in the explosions that happened at about 2:45 p.m. Boston time (about 11:45 a.m. Pacific time).

About 350 Oregonians were among the more than 27,000 runners who raced in the annual Boston Marathon.

Administrative Assistant Kathy Connell said that Rhoades called the school district in the aftermath of the explosions reporting that he was unharmed. According to Oregon Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton, who was also at the event and spoke to Rhoades, the West Linn-Wilsonville superintendent was receiving his medal at the time of the explosions — just about 150 yards away from the destruction.West Linn-Wilsonville School Superintendent Bill Rhoades, 56, finished the race at about 2:36 p.m.

Two couples from the West Linn Lutheran Church — Bob and Romayne Harding and Gail and Terri O’Donel — had family members participating in the marathon, but all were reported safe on Monday.

West Linn resident Dave Harkin, didn’t see the explosions, but he certainly heard them.

by: COURTESY PHOTO, APRIL 15, 2013 - Dave Harkin (number 210) owns Portland Running Company. He finished the Boston Marathon before two explosions near the finish line.

Harkin, who owns the Portland Running Company, and his wife, Paula, were sitting in their room at the Lenox Hotel about 90 minutes after Dave Harkin had finished running when they heard the first explosion. The building rattled and it was immediately apparent that something major had happened. They ran to the window just as a second explosion went off right below their room at the intersection of Exeter and Boylston streets.

“Our initial reaction, my wife’s especially, was to immediately get out of the building,” Dave Harkin told KPAM anchor Diana Jordan. “We weren’t actually allowed to do that; we got to the lobby and were turned around. We got back up to the room, and we saw two very major casualties right out in the middle of the intersection where the second explosion happened.”

The scene, as Harkin recalled, was “surreal.” People were running away from the blast area while emergency workers rushed in to treat the casualties. As Harkin put it, the scene had turned from “a sense of celebration to a panicked, very high intensity situation.”

Harkin couldn’t speak to the condition of the two casualties he saw outside the window, other than that “it didn’t look good at all — it looked like they were very seriously injured.”

“Within minutes,” Harkin said, “everything was sirens and emergency vehicles … civilians running one way, and EMTs and emergency personnel running the other way to try to get a handle on what had happened and what was possibly going to continue to happen.”

That lingering sense of uncertainty left the Harkins feeling scared and confused. They were also worried about friends and associates who were running in the marathon, and as of yet unaccounted for.

When the hotel was eventually evacuated, the Harkins were told only to “turn right and keep going.” They walked about 10 blocks until they reached a residential area and sat down in front of a row house. As they contemplated what to do next, a man approached and introduced himself as Larry.

“He kind of came up and asked us how we were doing,” Harkin said. “Within minutes, he said, ‘Why don’t you come in my place, at least get off the street for a little bit.”

It was from there that Harkin spoke to Jordan on Monday afternoon, looking out the window and still trying to wrap his head around what happened. By that point, the Harkins had contacted their friends and determined everyone to be fine.

“We had one friend who finished at 3 hours 50 minutes, and I think it was reported that the bombs went off at 4:10, 4:12,” Harkin said. “So that’s as close as anyone would ever want to be to anything like that.”

Amidst the chaos, with scores of people still walking through the streets in all directions, Harkin tried to put the events in perspective.

“We just came and ran and were luckily outside of the rest of it,” Harkin said. “It’s a great tragedy, it’s very devastating.”

— KPAM anchor Diana Jordan and KOIN Local 6 contributed to this story.




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