Local

Chevron Houston Marathon director speaks of Boston Marathon tragedy

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

As with any attack, the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon have people across the country wondering who could have done this and how can we stay safe.

The people who plan these major marathons are part of a tight community. Our own Chevron Houston Marathon committee is part of that. Four members were in Boston, some to help run the event and others to watch it. They all became witnesses to a horrific terror attack and are just starting to feel the full impact of this act of terror.

"For someone to pick this platform to do such an evil thing is disgusting," said Steven Karpas, managing director of the Chevron Houston Marathon.

Karpas has run the Boston Marathon five times and attended more than a dozen times. He was watching the race from a hotel window when the first explosion happened.

"I was looking at the tail end of the finish line and I remember that first bang. I looked to my right and to my left to see what the next person next to me and we all pretty much did the same," Karpas said. "And no sooner thereafter, was the second bang and we started to see the chaos on the street with people just running in all directions."

Chevron Houston Marathon Diretor Brant Kotch had wandered away from his VIP seat at the finish line to pack for his flight home.

"And a woman ran in just in tears and screaming,'There've been explosions!'" Kotch told Eyewitness News.

What ensued was chaos, but Houston's race team was able to see the Boston Marathon organizers leap into action.

"People started pulling debris back; the next thing you saw was a lot of blood," said Kotch.

Houstonian Carol Kirshon was standing along the course and she saw traumatic injuries to people's lower extremities, all of them severe.

"A lot of limbs torn off, smoke, just a lot of traumatized people," she said. "Police were telling us, 'Run, run, get out of the city and leave.' But there were no cabs. There was nothing. I can still smell the air."

In spite of the devastation, Karpas believes the fact that the explosion happened near the finish line probably saved lives.

"The physicians happened to be right there with all of the ambulances and the emergency people," he said. "So if it was out on the course, I think it would have been more serious, more casualties."

Had he not left the course when he did, he could easily have been among the victims.

"Our seats that we were given passes to on the finish line are those bleachers that you see in these clips," said Karpas. "It was such a cowardly act to ruin the experience and take the lives of innocent people, ruin families. You'd have to be a twisted sick individual."

The Houston Marathon leaders were finally able to get on a late flight home Monday night. On Tuesday, they are left with lots to think about for the 42nd Houston Marathon, which is just 277 days away.

"This will cause us to again re-examine our plan going forward," Kotch said.

What the fatal terror attack will mean for future races like the marathon here is still a huge question. They are constantly looking at ways to make it safer. What is without question is that the Boston Marathon, which is such a celebrated event, will now be remembered as an event where terrorists struck.
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