Boston Attack: Hennepin County judge finished race 20 minutes before explosion

Quam says it sounded like two fireworks going off.
Quam says it sounded like two fireworks going off.
Photos: Left, Craig Lassig. Right, screengrab.

Jay Quam completed the Boston Marathon today in three hours and 45 minutes. After crossing the finish line, he walked through a corridor that followed, where staff was handing out blankets and food to the runners, and met up with his wife and daughter at a designated spot a block or so away.

It was just then, about 20 minutes after finishing the race, when he heard what sounded like -- but he knew could not be -- two fireworks going off behind him.

"It's such a weird thing," says Quam, a Hennepin County Judge, in an interview after the explosions. "Running Boston has been my dream for most of my life. And within 20 minutes I complete that dream and experience my first terrorist attack."

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As of publication, the Associated Press is reporting two dead and more than 80 injured in a tragic bombing that occurred near the finish line of the prestigious annual race today. Two other explosives have been found in the area. The motive for the attack is unknown.

Speaking from the airport, Quam says runners have been told to go to their hotels and stay indoors. He describes a panicked scene, and says state troopers are searching for anyone wearing marathon gear, trying to find someone who might have been an eyewitness to the bombing.

Quam was lucky to finish when he did, he says, and he's grateful to have been with his family and out of danger. When the bombs went off he knew instantly what had happened.

"You knew it was an explosion, just because it couldn't be anything else," he says. "Especially two of them. If it's one, then maybe it's a pipe thing or a gas leak, but when it's two it's pretty obviously a bomb."

He continues: "Fortunately, I was far enough away that I didn't see anyone injured. And I didn't, obviously, go back to check it out. You hear that and you move away as quickly as you can."

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