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Day to celebrate ‘turns into a terrible tragedy’

JC runner recounts surreal atmosphere after explosions

A Jefferson City man who was running in his fourth Boston Marathon on Monday said he was fortunate he had finished the race an hour before two deadly explosions rocked the area near the finish line.

Dana Frese said he and members of his family were back at their hotel, a tenth of a mile from the finish line, when they heard two loud explosions.

“Looking out from our hotel room, the whole area is a crime scene,” Frese said Monday night. “There is no access to our hotel, except for registered guests. There’s police walking in the lobby with machine guns. A couple hotels were completely evacuated.”

Frese said after he finished the race they came back to the hotel, and he and his family were going to go out and celebrate.

“That’s when we heard two explosions, and we became concerned about staying at the hotel,” he said. “We left and walked as fast as we could from the hotel, and some Boston residents helped us with directions on where we could go. We ended up about a mile-and-a-half away from the hotel.”

Frese said the first press conference after the blasts was held at the hotel they were staying at.

“When we saw the Massachusetts governor holding his press conference there, we felt this hotel was safe,” Frese said.

Frese said guests were told they were locked in, with no cab service going to or from the area.

Heading into today and during his three previous trips to Boston for the marathon, Frese said he was never concerned about his safety.

“There’s always lots of security, in fact all agencies are out for an event like this,” he said. “It’s Patriots Day, and that’s a state holiday. It’s a huge celebration day with lots of people and security.”

Frese said a number of people were not permitted to finish the race because of the explosions.

“We talked to a couple from Australia who got a few hundred meters from the finish line when the explosions occurred and were told to stop,” he said. The woman said she could have been right at the finish line when the explosion occurred. So how frightening is that?”

Frese said they talked to their family back in Mid-Missouri after the explosions, and they were relieved that everyone is safe.

“We’ll see what Tuesday holds,” he said. “This was a cowardly act targeting people waiting for family members at a great event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the injured and the families of those who lost loved ones.

“This was a great a day of celebration for 27,000 runners, and it turned into a terrible tragedy.”

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