South Floridians describe Boston Marathon explosions

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Runners traveled from around the world to be a part of the Boston Marathon, including a few runners from South Florida.

Stephanie Wright was a volunteer at the event. The 21-year-old who has family in South Florida was placing blankets on runners near the finish line when the first explosion hit. She said some of the runners that were exhausted by the race had trouble getting to safety.

"The runners couldn't climb over the barricades because their legs were weak and they were tired, so it was difficult getting everybody out of the street," said Wright.

Wright said the blankets she passed out to keep runners warm were used by paramedics to help the injured.

"It's just amazing that in a blink of an eye everything went from the happiest days in these people's lives to their worst nightmare," she added.

Billy Mathis posed for a picture with his marathon medal inside his hotel room. The 42-year-old said he barely escaped the blast. He crossed the finish line minutes before the initial explosion.

"You have to keep in mind we were still running at that point and still looking for friends in the crowd and with the crowd so deep, you are talking 8-to-10 people. So, it's hard to notice anything," said Wright.

A 25-year-old with family in South Florida was supposed to watch the race from the finish line, but because he ran late to the event he watched it one mile out from Copley Square.

Shawn Semmes said he had trouble getting in touch with loved ones to let them know he was okay.

"It was definitely terrifying knowing that I could not get in touch with anyone and then we found that text messages started going through while calling was not. We were able to connect with texts."

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.