Bellevue resident Vicki Schoen had just finished the Boston Marathon and was on her way to claim a medal when she heard the first of two bombs explode near the race's finish line Monday afternoon.
"I could see it happen right at mile 26. The flames and debris and smoke were instant," she said.
Soon, a nearby police officer yelled "Bombs!" and told everyone to leave the area, Schoen said.
"He said Go, Go, Go!," she said.
Volunteers in the area then moved everyone out of the way, Schoen said.
"The volunteers were unbelievable. They were so calm and got everyone out," she said.
Schoen's husband, who had been videotaping the race in the vicinity of one of the bombings, was nowhere to be found, Schoen said. The search for him then began. With no cell phone service, Schoen headed for their hotel room where they agreed prior to the race to meet if they couldn't find each other.
"Participants couldn't get to their families. It was total chaos," she said.
After about 1 1/2 hours, the pair finally met as Schoen was leaving their hotel room and as he was entering it. Her husband had luckily left the area where he had been filming just prior to the bomb going off.
Schoen said Monday night a 15-block area around the bombing sites was closed off, and she and her husband were stuck in their hotel room.
Although a weeklong vacation was in the original agenda, they plan to return home as soon as possible, she said.
Schoen said she does not plan on participating in another Boston Marathon.
"It was my first time and definitely my last," she said.
Schoen said she had been one of the last runners to cross the finish line, as police officers instantly stopped the remaining 4,500 runners.
Another Bellevue native to finish the race just prior to the bombings was Brandi Hines.
Her mother, Gay Alt, said Hines crossed the finish line about 15 minutes before the first bomb went off.
Alt said Hines and runners around her were directed to a to a safe zone right after the bombings. Alt was able to correspond with Hines soon after the incident, she said. Hines had participated in the marathon with a fellow cross country runner, Heidi Kiesel. Both attended Seneca East.
"She too made it out safe," Alt said.
Alt said because Hines' hotel was shut down Monday following the bombings, Hines was staying with a cousin who lives outside of Boston.
"It was very chaotic. They're just very thankful they're ok," Alt said.