BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - McGill-Toolen Catholic High School Asst. Principal John Repoll said he was on his way to greet his wife Laurie at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, April 15, when he felt the ground shake, heard a loud boom and saw smoke.
He said he was nearly 100 yards from the explosion when he heard a second explosion erupt in the air.
"I started smelling a gun-powder smell and people started running," said Repoll.
Repoll said he immediately tried to contact his wife but could not get in touch with her.
"Deep down all of a sudden you felt your stomach drop and tighten up and initially I thought are my wife and her friends, are they okay? Are they okay down there? It was a scary moment," said Repoll.
He said Boston law enforcement flooded the streets and the scene turned from a joyous event with family and friends cheering on loved ones to one of chaos and tragedy.
Laurie was with a group of friends who had just finished the race. Alison Ellis, who is a manager at the Running Wild store in Fairhope, was among them and said she could feel the explosions.
"The second one happened within five seconds and you saw black smoke from that and you felt it you felt it rumble in your chest. I turned around and looked at Laurie and said if we were two minutes slower, we would have been there right when that happened," she said.
The group had just crossed the finish line and Repoll was able to reunite with Laurie and the group after about 10 minutes.
They said they're thankful they were not harmed and will never forget the tragic experience.
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