Local couple recalls day of Boston Marathon bombings

Boston Marathon explosion, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo)

(WJLA) - On the afternoon of April 15, the scene at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston was much like any other day.

Then, suddenly, a startling announcement blared over the speakers - an unimaginable tragedy at the finish like of the famous Boston Marathon.

"I heard the loud speaker, saying that there were bombs that had detonated, but we didn't know what had happened or how many people were injured," recalls Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician.

As is now known, two bombs had exploded among thousands of spectators. Three were killed, and more than 260 were injured.

"They required resuscitation and CPR," Wen told ABC7. "Some were missing arms and legs. And everyone was covered with blood and soot."

Dr. Wen, a highly skilled ER doctor, was trained for this - but even her Ivy League training couldn't prepare her for a simple text message she received from her husband minutes before.

"Fifty-four minutes before we got that notice, he had texted me to say that he was at the finish line, or was about to go to the finish line to watch the race," Wen said.

Her husband, Sebastian Walker, was at the finish line. There was a chance he was severely injured - possibly killed.

Still, Dr. Wen had lives to save.

"I do remember this one woman who looked at me, and all she could ask was where her husband was, and where her children were, and I couldn't help but think to myself too - where's my husband?" Wen recalls.

She thought the worst, and looked for him among the chaos.

"My husband's phone has a pretty distinctive ring, and I kept on hearing that ring, and my heart would stop - and I didn't want to stop what I was doing to look for a phone," she said.

But for Wen and Walker, luck was on their side that day.

"Purely by the luck of a telephone call from a colleague, I wasn't at the finish line," recalls Walker. "Who knows where I would've been at the finish line?"

Cell service was shut down, and for four hours, Walker couldn't get through to his wife. Then, finally, that phone call - he was alive and OK.

"I told her I loved her," Walker remembers, of the moment he was able to reach her.

The married couple moved into the D.C. area last summer, but said they still carry those memories with them, along with a profound sense of gratefulness.

"You've got a second chance, and you just don't take that person for granted," Walker said.

As far as the marathon next week - the couple said they don't feel emotionally ready to attend just yet.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off