“It’s a sad day here in Boston”


Local, state and federal agencies respond to a blast at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts. MHS graduate Nasar Abdul-Ganhy was on the scene shortly after the explosions and witnessed the city in the aftermath. – Photo by Kevin Wiles Jr., Zuma Press, MCT

By Jake Dziubla, Online Editor-in-Chief

Middletown High School graduate Nasar Abdul-Ganhy headed down Boylston and Newbury Streets, running the opposite direction of marathon runners, and approached the Boston Common, the final stretch of his daily run through the heart of the city.

As he neared the Common, an explosion rang out on behind him on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Abdul-Ganhy, like many other Bostonians in the vicinity of the explosion, initially believed the noise to be celebratory.

“I thought it was a cannon or that the race was possibly over,” said Abdul-Ganhy, who graduated from MHS in 2008. When I was told [what had happened], I couldn’t believe it.”

The site of the explosion, however, was a scene of pure carnage, as two bombs exploded on April 15 near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, an annual highlight on the city’s calendar that attracts thousands from across the country. The bombs have claimed the lives of three people so far, including an 8-year-old boy, and have injured upward of 150.

A couple blocks from the explosion, Abdul-Ganhy paused momentarily but continued to run toward the Common as pandemonium erupted.

“The ground shook,” said Abdul-Ganhy. “I heard people talk of explosions,” said Ganhy, describing the panicked, swarm of people that fled the terror scene.

Boston cell service was overwhelmed shortly afterward by an influx of calls and other communications, forcing Abdul-Ganhy to travel outside of the city to find decent reception to reassure his family in Middletown of his safety.

“Anything can happen on any given day. It’s really sad what happened,” said Abdul-Ganhy.  “Everyone [here is] so fun-loving and great.”

A day after the explosions, Boston is still attempting to pick up the pieces and pinpoint a suspect. The city is now the site of an FBI coordinated investigation, one that has now been deemed “worldwide” by authorities.

“I’m hearing lots of sirens and [authorities] have drones and what-not overhead every hour or so,” said Abdul-Ganhy. “The streets are filled since everyone is going to work, but everyone is silent. No one is really saying too much.”

“It’s a sad day here in Boston,” said Abdul-Ganhy.

Across the Charles River at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, another Middletown graduate, Katelyn Rossick, watched from her dorm as conditions on Boylston Street deteriorated.

“You could see masses of people evacuating the city… and I spent the next three hours still in shock,” said Rossick. “I thought about how many times I’d been in Boston at the very spot where the explosions were.”

A half an hour after the explosions occurred, Rossick called her father to tell him that she was safe.

“I called my dad…not even thinking  that I had told him I was out there watching the marathon,” she said. The two have kept correspondence every day since.

Rossick, a junior majoring in material science and engineering, had volunteered at a marathon based pasta party a night earlier, allowing her to connect with the many athletes who had traveled afar to participate in the event.

“It was such a rewarding and inspirational experience being able to see these incredible athletes from all over the world enjoying themselves,” said Rossick.

Rossick attended the marathon in the morning, sending a picture of the first male finishers to her father via text message. Rossick stayed to watch the runners for another hour.

“I love the atmosphere,” she said. “There are people cheering for these athletes just for the feat of completing the marathon…people line the course and cheer for everyone,” she said.

For Rossick, the face of Boston’s Back Bay has changed forever. No longer will she be able to grab dinner with friends or stroll the promenades of the Bay without having the thought of the tragedy creep up on her memory.

“Being in that area of downtown probably won’t be the same,” she said. “This tragedy will tend to overshadow the good times.”

According to Rossick, MIT has provided students with crisis management resources, as well as opportunities for students to unite in support for those affected. The Chancellor of MIT has also called upon students to donate to victims, as well as encourage them to run in the marathon next year, something Rossick been contemplating since.

“I can guarantee finishing it would be an amazing feeling,” she said.

Through donations, or even offering the shelter of their own home for comfort, Bostonians have sent an outpouring of support for those affect by the senseless act of terror in the days following. To Rossick, it is this “sense of community” that gives her hope in the grieving Massachusetts capital.

“It makes me proud to say I live here,” she said.