Boston Marathon Explosions Shock Andover Community

On Monday, explosions rocked the city of Boston when two bombs killed three and injured over 100 participants and spectators at the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon.

In wake of the tragedy, Head of School John Palfrey urged members of the Andover community to find strength and support in themselves and others.

“The thing I am focusing on, during the wake of this tragedy, is the strength that I see around us all…That strength takes the form of each of you, our students, and our faculty and staff, putting one foot in front of another and going about the important business of teaching and learning here on Andover Hill, uninterrupted,” wrote Palfrey in an e-mail to the Andover community.

Students will not be allowed to travel to Boston this weekend due to ongoing safety concerns, according to an e-mail from Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, to the student body.

The investigation is currently being treated as a terrorist investigation, according to “The New York Times.” The F.B.I. has found video images of two potential suspects, but has made no arrests.

Just 25 miles away, the tragedies in Boston affected several members of the Andover community. Two faculty members, Rachel Asher, Instructor in Spanish, and Susanne Torabi, International Student Coordinator and Advisor of Non-Sibi Society, were near the finish line when the bombs detonated. Neither were injured by the blasts.

Torabi, who has run in the Boston Marathon every year since she qualified in 1997, finished the race shortly before the first bomb detonated. She had just walked back to the finish line to retrieve her belongings when she felt the blast.

“It unfolded right in front of my eyes and everyone was heading toward the finish line. I knew immediately that this was an attack and that this was bad, very bad. Then the second one detonated and it was all smokey and you couldn’t see anything. All our jaws dropped, people were in shock and there was the awkward moment of silence and people were just trying to make sense of what happened. I felt the panic crawl up my body,” said Torabi.

Torabi immediately called her husband who was unhurt. Although the two were able to meet up shortly, the area was clogged with traffic in the chaos.

“Sitting in that traffic and seeing all the ambulances come, I don’t know how I would have felt if I were right on the scene and seeing all the people falling. But I think of it and I can’t block it out, its been with me all week and I feel so sorry for all the harmed people and their families. This was like war, just terrible, and I have never experienced anything like this before,” said Torabi.

“I will give it time, but I also know how much [the marathon] has meant to me all these years and how it has given me strength. And because Boston has been this one goal that I have every year, to run this race and to prepare for it, it gives me that confidence that I can still do it. Its hard to imagine I will not come back because this happened, but I think I will give it a good thought and I do believe that taking this away from Boston and not showing the courage to come back will also be sad,” Torabi continued.

Torabi is planning to hold a fundraiser through Non-Sibi Society for the victims of the bombings in the near future, but she is still unsure of the logistics.

Although Asher did not participate this year due to injury, the finish line on Boylston Street is meaningful for her as she has crossed it many times before. The first bomb went off just 10 minutes after she left the finish line area, where she had been trying to meet up with fellow runners in the Boston Athletic Association (BAA), the team she normally runs with.

“I think what was hard for me was seeing on TV the unicorn symbol of the BAA amidst the smoke of the bomb and people’s body parts at the finish line of the marathon. I have run across the finish line so many times during training runs and that place for me is a special place just like it is for all runners in Boston,” said Asher.

The city of Boston shut down cellphone service in the area in order to prevent remote detonation of more bombs, according to the “Boston Globe”. Asher mentioned her anxiety as she was unable to reconnect with her many friends who were running.

“When all this happened on Monday I was trying to decide if the explosions made me want to run more next year or not run at all. But after thinking about it, and after hearing Obama say this morning that the marathon will definitely take place next year, I will do my best to be at the starting line and finish for all those people who couldn’t this year,” said Asher.

The brother of Andrea Yepez ’14, who was standing just ten feet away from the second bomb, suffered from second degree burns, a shattered and ruptured eardrum and has shrapnel stuck in his leg. He underwent surgery on his leg on Tuesday and is now at home recovering.

According to Yepez, her family has gone to the Boston Marathon for the last few years, but she was unable to go this year due to school. Her brother is a 9th grader at St. Johns Prep.

To honor the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions, Andover’s track team wore blue and yellow to practice on Wednesday, said Patrick Naughter ’13.

There was a quiet period of reflection in the chapel this morning at 7:30 a.m. about Monday’s events.