South Floridians in Boston

South Florida family in Boston: ‘We saw everything’


South Florida finishers in the Boston Marathon recount their experiences from Monday’s terror-stricken race

Christina Armenti (Boston shirt), runs with the members of the Baptist Health Brickell Run Club along Brickell Avenue to support the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, April 16, 2013. Hundreds of runners gathered in the business district and ran north to the American Ailines Arena as a gesture of support.
Christina Armenti (Boston shirt), runs with the members of the Baptist Health Brickell Run Club along Brickell Avenue to support the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, April 16, 2013. Hundreds of runners gathered in the business district and ran north to the American Ailines Arena as a gesture of support.

Spencer West was just starting to lather his shampoo after a grueling run in the Boston Marathon when he heard the blast.

“I had never heard a bomb in my life, but there was no mistaking it,” West, 41, who lives in Davie and practices law in Coral Gables, said Tuesday by phone. “Then, another blast. I ran out of the shower and looked out the window. We saw everything.”

For the past three years, West and his wife, Julie — both Boston Marathon racers — have reserved a room on the third floor of the Lenox Hotel that overlooks the finish line. What they saw Monday was carnage and terror punctuated in red.

“It’s really sad,’’ said Julie West, 38, who finished the marathon in 3 hours 23 minutes 21 seconds — less than an hour before the explosions. “I’m ready to go home. Crazy two days.’’

The Wests, along with their 9-year-old son, Patrick, and 6-year-old daughter, Madison, were part of a large contingent of South Florida marathoners who headed to the airport Tuesday after harrowing experiences, but thankful to have survived uninjured.

Spencer grew up just outside Boston in Somerville and has run Boston five times, including Monday, when he represented Runner’s Depot Racing Team with a speedy 2:57:37 finish. “What a nice day and beautiful weather, with everyone cheering us on,’’ he said. “Such an innocent event and an honor to be in it. I just hope this doesn’t deter people in the future.”

Patrick made his father promise he won’t run Boston next year “unless they catch the person who did it,’’ West said. “I told him, ‘They’ll catch the person.’ ”

Rob DeClercq, a triathlete from Davie and a teammate of West’s, finished his first Boston marathon in 3:10. When DeClercq had completed his run, he met his wife and fellow marathoner Jeff Boden of Coral Gables. They went in a restaurant three blocks from the finish. Then a manager announced “there was criminal activity outside’’ and no one could leave, DeClercq said.

“We were a little confused, like, ‘What the hell does criminal activity mean?’ I thought someone had a gun or got in a fight. About 10 minutes later they turned on the TVs and we found out. When we finally left, we walked three miles back to our hotel. The streets had this creepy feel . . . but everyone was calm.

“I will come back without a doubt, but emotionally it has been difficult.”

Sarah Dunsford, 20, grew up in Ponte Vedra. The student at Boston Architectural College was snapping photos during the last stretch of the marathon with her roommate and two acquaintances. One of them told the others she was going to the finish line. Dunsford and her roommate didn’t feel like dealing with the crowd.

The other two went together and were caught in the blast. One had an undisclosed leg injury; the other “shattered her ankle and had fragments of bomb within her shin,’’ said Dunsford, who visited her Monday night at Tufts Medical Center. “She went into surgery late last night. We don’t know if they were able to save her foot, but we’re praying. It’s horrible.’’

One South Floridian, who miraculously crossed the finish line about 60 seconds before the first explosion, said the experience caused her to change her attitude.

Lauren Fuchs, 52, of Coral Springs, came to the race after undergoing surgery and radiation treatments in October for breast cancer.

“I have not been very lucky in the last couple of years,’’ said Fuchs, who works for Running Wild in Fort Lauderdale and is married with two kids. “I started training again in December so I could get here, and I came to this race not really knowing if I could do it.

“I survived breast cancer, and [Monday] I started thinking, ‘Maybe my luck has changed.’ ”

Public Insight Analyst Stefania Ferro contributed to this report.

Read more Outdoors stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Timing:</span> West Palm Beach resident Kacie Herrick, 29, finished last year’s Boston Marathon about 40 minutes before the first bomb went off.

    Boston Marathon

    South Florida runners return to Boston for emotional marathon

    In what is sure to be an emotional day, several locals are back in Boston to finish, or finish how they wanted to last year before terrorists struck.

Steve Kantner prepares to release a grass carp estimated at 12-14 pounds that he caught on fly rod in the C-11 canal in Davie.


    Flyfishing for carp a ‘berry’ good time

    Fort Lauderdale author and fly fisherman Steve Kantner idled slowly west on the grassy, linear park swale between Orange Drive and Griffin Road in Davie on a recent weekday afternoon, examining the broad, leafy ficus trees lining the banks of the C-11 canal.

  • Notebook

    Measures by Wildlife Commission target invasive lionfish

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, meeting last week near Tallahassee, stepped up the battle against the spread of invasive lionfish. Commissioners gave preliminary approval to draft rules that would prohibit importation and development of aquaculture of lionfish; permit divers using rebreathers to harvest the venomous exotics; and expand opportunities for spearfishing tournaments to target lionfish.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category