Athletics

Ernst shaken by Boston blasts

2013-04-17 12:05
Ernst Van Dyk (AFP Photo)

Boston - South African Paralympian and nine-time wheelchair winner of the Boston Marathon, Ernst van Dyk, has given an account of his harrowing ordeal at this year's race.

Speaking to BallzRadio, Van Dyk, gave an eye-witness account of the double blast that killed at least two people and injured more than 100 others, after he finished second in this year’s race.

Van Dyk had joined an event hosted by his sponsors at the Mandarin Hotel, overlooking the Boylston Street section where the explosions occurred, when he heard the first blast.

VIDEO: Interview with Ernst van Dyk

“We heard the first explosion a little bit down the street, when I first heard it I didn't know what the noise was. I (initially) thought it could be a cannon-blast like they fire off signaling a certain time cut-off at the Comrades Marathon, because that’s what it sounded like.

“We went closer to the window and then the next blast was right in front of the window across the street. It was a huge blast and it shook the windows and the building. I could immediately smell the distinct smell of gunpowder in the air.

"There was a man lying half-on and half-off the pavement and it was clear his legs were missing.

“I saw people down, I saw people who had lost limbs... it was just horrific,” Van Dyk said.

Van Dyk said chaos followed the blasts, as people scrambled to safety, or to assist the wounded.

“For a short period they cut off all cellphone communication, because they were worried that more devices could be set off. People couldn’t communicate or find out if their loved ones were okay. It was chaos.”

An audibly shaken Van Dyk expressed contempt for the perpetrators behind the act of terror, and said he hoped they would be brought to justice soon.

“The tragedy of it is that the last 5 000 runners (on the course when the explosion occurred) are mostly charity runners and fund-raisers and it’s their families that were out there supporting them. An 8-year old boy died, children have lost arms and legs - it’s just so sick.

“With all the expertise the authorities have out here I am pretty sure they will find the people that did this pretty quickly.”

Van Dyk said he would not allow the tragedy to deter him from competing in future events as he prepared to jet out to take part in the London Marathon on Sunday.

“We can’t stop the way we live because there are sick people out there doing things like this. The New York Marathon went on shortly after 9/11. Marathons are all about overcoming challenges and adversities,” Van Dyk said.

Read more on:    boston marathon  |  ernst van dyk  |  athletics
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