OSWEGO, NY – On Monday afternoon, the shock of the Boston Marathon bomb incident was felt all over the nation – including Oswego, NY. Three people were confirmed dead; more than 100 were injured, some very seriously.
Port City resident Jennifer Bradshaw’s sister, Michelle Navarroli, had been standing at the finish line, waiting for her fiancé to finish the race.
Dave Melohusky is a marathon runner and participates in Iron Man events as well. Michelle, an Oswego native, said, “I went to college at Niagara and decided to stay up here.”
When reports of a bombing at the marathon were broadcast Monday afternoon, Michelle’s family was terrified.
“I was terrified when I heard about the bombs. I was shaking like crazy and all I could think about was contacting her,” Jennifer said. “I tried calling her cell and it wouldn’t go through. So I kept calling and so did my mom. We were in a state of panic. All I could think about is the picture she had posted the day before of her and Dave standing at the finish line of that race. It was horrific not knowing if they were safe or not.”
“Today was all about getting back to my reality – teaching eighth grade Spanish, proctoring the ELA exam, and most importantly being mom to my three children (ages 9, 7 and 4). I couldn’t wait to see their faces and love them up,” Michelle said on Tuesday.
“A part of me wanted to stay home, curled up on the couch, and watch the news for updates,” she told Oswego County Today. “My heart aches for each and every person that was there.”
It was a beautiful day for the marathon, she said, adding, the crowd was very excited as were the runners.
Dave had finished the race at 1:25 p.m. with a 3:25:55 time, very impressive for such a difficult course.
It can take the runners 20-25 minutes to go through the finish chute and make their way to the designated meeting place.
“Dave and I met up at about 1:55 p.m. or so at the corner of Stuart and Claredon streets, a few blocks from the medical tents, and immediately headed to catch the train,” Michelle said. “Normally, after a race we go back to the finish to watch other runners and wait for friends. But, this time we had a plane to catch and Dave needed to clean up and change.”
As they were walking to the train station, Michelle heard a loud noise “that sounded like thunder or a large truck.”
Not realizing it was a bomb exploding, they continued about their business.
It wasn’t until about 30 minutes later, at their hotel, that she overheard someone talk about an explosion at the finish line.
“I then immediately received a text message from my ex-husband wondering what was going on. We didn’t know,” Michelle said. “Messages and voice mails started appearing on our phones from family asking if we were OK. We tried responding but were unable.”
They didn’t know it at the time, but phone service had been shut down.
“We started texting her in case that would go through,” Jennifer said. “After about 30 minutes of overwhelming fear, it dawned on me to check Facebook and she had posted a message that they we safe.”
“I was finally able to post to Facebook in the hope that family and friends would look there. They did and the messages went like wildfire. Monday, social media was the link that gave peace to many friends and family,” Michelle said. “Dave and I found a TV in the hotel lobby to watch as the horrifying events unfolded.”
They debated briefly about their plan to leave; take the train and risk getting stuck somewhere else if it was shut down, take a cab, stay at the hotel, would the airport be open?
“Dave asked me what I wanted to do and I simply said that “I wanted to go home NOW,” she said.
They took the train to the bus and made it uneventfully to the airport.
There were a few stops that the train did not make due to the proximity to the explosions.
“We later heard that the train closed shortly after we arrived at the airport,” Michelle said.
Of course, the airport was on heightened security.
“We checked our luggage and it was hand searched. We were told to expect delays due to precautions, but our flight left on time and arrived safely in Buffalo,” she said. “I am so grateful to be safe and sad for those who were left with a very different story. There were many times throughout the day where a different choice would have given us a very different ending.”
“What if I had stood on the other side of the street to watch the race, the side where the bombs went off? What if we had decided to meet elsewhere or stay and watch some of the runners finish? What if Dave couldn’t run fast that day? What if he took more time in the finish chute or stopped to use the bathroom?” she continued.
Michelle said that she and Dave had discussed so many details of the day, the wheres, the whats, the plan. What if she had changed one detail?
“It is completely mind boggling to think about the possibility that we could have easily been in the middle of that disaster,” she added.
“Over the course of the weekend, I was very impressed with the city. It seemed very quaint and sweet. I felt safe and enjoyed being there,” Michelle said. “I could not imagine more security at the race or any way they could have prevented it from happening. The Boston Marathon is an amazing race put on by an incredible city.”
They arrived in Boston on Saturday morning and everything was very uneventful, according to Michelle. Sunday was also a “quite day,” she said.
“We walked around the city and took some pictures,” she said. “On Sunday, Dave rested up to get ready for the race.”
She described Boston as a nice city with several quaint shops.
“I never felt unsafe. You knew you were in a big city, but you never felt unsafe,” she said. “I also went for a run by myself and didn’t think a thing about it. Everything was clean. It’s a very nice city, at least the parts we were in.”
They packed up and headed to the race site on Monday and checked out the finish line area.
“We talked about a lot of stuff. Dave said I should stand on this side of the street (across from where the first bomb would later explode) to watch the finish because it would be easier to get to our meeting place, since the streets were all barricaded and the crowd was so big due to the race,” she said.
“Everything went smoothly. He finished the race at just about the time he said he would. We met right where we said we would, took the train, got back to the hotel and cleaned up. Even after we heard about the bombings, everything still went smoothly. It was a very weird feeling, like it was meant to be that we weren’t supposed to be a part of this,” Michelle continued. “It’s such a strange feeling. I am so relieved to be home safely – but I am heartbroken over what happened and all the people who were injured.”
It seemed like every other person at the marathon was carrying some sort of backpack, she said.
“There were police everywhere. Who would have thought twice that one of those backpacks had a bomb inside,” she said. “It was a very brazen act. I just can’t fathom why anyone would do such a thing.”
Dave’s time qualified him for next year’s Boston Marathon. Whether he participates is up to him, Michelle said.
He is looking to return to Boston for the 2017 running of the marathon as it will be held on April 17 that year, his birthday.
When Jennifer discovered her sister and Dave were safe, “The tears just started rolling down my cheeks from relief, but also sadness over the tragedy,” she explained. “I have never been that scared in life. I thank God that Dave ran the race quickly and they decided to leave right away. These events have reminded me to never take anything or anyone for granted! Because you never know …”
Early Wednesday afternoon, The Associated Press and CNN indicated that a suspect had been taken into custody.
However, according to our friends at News Channel 9, after conflicting reports emerged surrounding the investigation into Monday’s Boston Marathon bomb incident, Boston Police now say no arrest has been made.
The (Boston) police clarified the development via Twitter at 2:33 p.m.: “Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack.”