Pratt Family Near Second Boston Marathon Bomb
Decision to move to better vantage point proves vital
Wednesday December 31, 1969
By Mike Cameron
It was a thankful and grateful Darwin Pratt who carefully explained to The Valley Voice how he and members of his family could have been victims of the second terrorist bomb detonated at the Boston Marathon this past week.
For Darwin and his wife Sue who own and operate Pratt's Store in Bridport, Patriots Day in Boston was to have been a holiday filled with the joy of watching his step-daughter Erin McAllister run the world famous 26.2 mile road race. The Pratts were joined by son-in-law Duncan who was carrying eight month old Wes in a chest pack. The family joined a crowd of thousands to view the race that was entering its fourth hour and nearing completion.
Making the Right Move
What the family did not know is that the crowd was also a hiding place for terrorists who were planting home made bombs in back packs near the finish line of the race and further back in the race course close to where the the Pratts and McAllisters stood. “We decided to move closer to the race course and away from where we were near the Lord and Taylor Building and we heard the first bomb go off. Our thought was that it might be a celebration at the finish line and then we heard the second one detonate. That one almost blew our ears out.” The family members were about 500 feet from where the second device exploded.
“I turned and saw thousands of people running behind us and people were screaming and crying. So we knew at that point that this was something very serious. We were kind of in front of the whole thing,” Pratt recalls. Later news accounts would reveal that the bombs were placed in back of the crowds to produce maximum deadly effect.
“I have to believe where we were originally standing before we moved from our spot near Lord and Taylor we would have been injured when the bomb went off and I fear that those that stayed there were
injured by the blast or by shrapnel.”he said. Pratt had this further thought about how the bombs were placed:
“Spectators were targeted and they got the brunt of it. One runner wen to his knees out on the course when the second bomb went off.
Praise for Police and First Responders
In the aftermath of the second blast, the Pratt and McAllister family members were extremely impressed with Boston PD and Medical First Responders at the scene, many of whom were already available to the runners in the race as part of the race support and security group near the finish line.
“The spectators were fortunate to have all the paramedics and doctors who were already on scene for the race. They were there to take care of the runners and had vehicles and medical equipment with them,” Pratt recalls. They were able to save a lot of lives. I do think about the people who remained where we were originally watching and I hope and pray that they were not injured but it seems unlikely after viewing the television coverage of the explosion later. We were just lucky enough to walk away from that area four minutes before the second bomb went off”
Remembering the Mail Box
Pratt, a retired postal employee, has had training over the years to observe and be alert both on his route and in U.S. Postal Service buildings. “I noticed the mail box before we moved away from that area and my thought was that the carrier won't have much to pick up on this day. We couldn't have imagined that the terrorist would leave his bomb in a back pack on the sidewalk near that same mail box a short time after we left that area for a better view of my step-daughter as she finished the race.” The news video confirmed this later in the day.
Reunited at Last
The family rushed back to their hotel with a huge crowd after the blast and immediately noticed that cell service had been interrupted through out the entire city. “We were reunited with Erin in about 3 hours. We were trying to call her and she us but the cell service was out.” She was able to call Vermont and we reached Vermont on a land line in about an hour and a half to find out that she was ok.” She finally was able to arrive at our hotel room and we could see she was ok.” The hotel had been locked down by National Guard Troops as part of a city wide security perimeter as authorities began to respond to the attacks. “The reunion as you can imagine was emotional. We were worried about her and she was worried about us. Now we knew that she was safe with us her husband and her 8 month old son. We just thanked God that we were all ok and together, knowing that as we looked down from the 30th floor window of the hotel onto that mass of people and police and ambulances, many people were not ok.” Darwin remembers. “Yes it was very emotional.”
We interviewed Darwin Pratt on Saturday morning April 20, 2013 and his thoughts were crisp and clear. There was never any hesitation. His memory of the events he and his family had witnessed were
very concise and deliberate. They are memories that will not soon be forgotten.
The Voice asked Pratt about his thoughts on why someone would want to perpetrate terror like this on innocent men, women and children. He never hesitated in his response.
“These people are really sick people. They don't care who they hurt. Who they are affiliated with remains unclear. They certainly must have had training to be able to pull that off with just two people and not be detected while they were doing it. It makes you wonder if there were others involved. For them to take innocent people's lives, an eight year old boy and his little sister who had her legs taken off and a mother who had shrapnel in her head, and hundreds of innocent people who just wanted to view a great race and enjoy their special marathon moments is unbelievable.”
“As Americans and the Boston people in particular who were subjected to this, particularly the families of the victims, our thoughts and prayers should go out to them. To the terrorists, it will not stop the race from being bigger and better next year,” Pratt shared with the Voice, in his own words.