Meadville Tribune

Local News

April 15, 2013

Local judge unharmed in Boston Marathon explosion

BOSTON — “If I would have been 15 minutes slower, it would have been disastrous for my family and possibly me as well,” said Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Spataro, who was not injured in the explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 130 in a scene that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.

President Barack Obama vowed that those responsible will “feel the full weight of justice.”

Spataro was running in the Boston Marathon for the third time on Monday. Upon completing the event in 15,825th place in 3:58.43, he went through a variety of checkpoints, including baggage claim, where he was picking up the items he stored at the start of the marathon.

“I’m at the baggage pickup, about 200 yards away” when the bombs went off, Spataro said via telephone on Monday. “All of us were in shock after we heard two explosions. Someone said, ‘That can’t be good. That could be a bomb.’”

The blasts took place about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending plumes of smoke rising over the street. Spataro immediately thought of his family, which was meeting him near the finish line.

“For me, it was a matter of reuniting with my family,” Spataro said. “If 15 minutes made the difference, they would have been at the location of where this happened.”

Spataro quickly reached out to his family, though it was difficult to carry a conversation via cell phone due to the noise of sirens and panic. He sent his wife, Kathy, and daughters Marissa and Carly text messages saying “Call me.” Once he received a response, he was able to breathe easy.

“I’m so thankful that my family and I got through this. I feel so much sympathy for the folks who weren’t fortunate,” Spataro said. “I feel awful for the family members and the people who were injured. People should give thought and prayer to the ones who weren’t as fortunate.”

Diana Perry, one of Crawford County’s auditors and Spataro’s sister-in-law, received a text from Spataro’s daughter Carly after the incident. Carly said they were all safe and that they were a few blocks away from Spataro when the bombs went off. Had Carly, Marissa and Kathy gone down a different road while trying to meet up with Spataro, they may not have been as fortunate.

“Luckily, Carly knew the area” and took a shortcut to reach Spataro, Perry said in reference to Carly living in Boston.

The 26.2-mile marathon is one of Boston’s biggest annual events. It is held on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.

“It’s supposed to be a happy occasion,” Spataro said. “That’s the finish line. They’re so joyous. They’ve accomplished something and their family members are there to congratulate them. It’s a difficult athletic endeavor.”

The first explosion occurred on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the finish line. The bombings occurred about four hours into the race and two hours after the men’s winner crossed the line. By that point, more than 17,000 of the runners had finished the race but thousands more were still running.

County Commissioner Jack Lynch, who ran in the Boston Marathon eight times between 1981 and 1997, and who has run many marathons across the country over the years, said he was sick to his stomach after hearing of the explosions.

“I really feel terrible about this. This changes everything” in terms of how marathons are handled, Lynch said. “Everyone will have to reevaluate emergency procedures.”

The fact that it isn’t easy to qualify for the marathon makes it even more exciting to compete.

“You have to earn your way to Boston,” Lynch said. “It’s on your bucket list if you are a runner of a serious stripe. This is a destination event. It is a world event.”

Spataro, who said he has already qualified for next year’s Boston Marathon, doesn’t believe these acts will stop the event from happening next year. Due to scheduling, he’s unsure if he’ll run in next year’s marathon, but he doesn’t believe Monday’s tragedy will take away from the event at all.

“It will probably serve as a rally to prove to whoever did this, and to the world in general, that we’re resilient, good and caring people,” Spataro said. “We will definitely move on from this and we will prevail.”

Pat Bywater and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Well inspectors trying to keep up during boom time

    The state’s 83 well inspectors face a daunting enough challenge keeping tabs on 120,000 active oil and gas wells that have been drilled over the last century.

    July 27, 2014

  • cycle Young stunt cyclist to bring show to 'Thunder'

    V-v-v-v-eroom! is the high-pitched whine from the Honda CBR 600 sport motorcycle as Steven Pilic rolls back the throttle and speeds down the asphalt. In one quick, smooth motion — just like you put one foot in front of the other — he shifts his weight forward on the handlebars, jumps from the bike’s foot pegs, lands his feet on the seat and pulls the 400-plus pounds of metal up onto its back wheel, using a combination of balance, brakes, clutch and speed to circle slowly at first and then faster and faster, tighter and tighter while doing a wheelie.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tornado watch issued for Crawford County

    The National Weather Service in Cleveland has issued a tornado watch for Crawford County.

     

    July 27, 2014

  • SUNDAY ISSUE: 'Free-range' parenting

    The case of a woman arrested after leaving her daughter at a park while she went to work is sparking discussion across South Carolina — and even the rest of the country.

    July 26, 2014

  • pymatuning History majors rule at Pioneer & Art Festival

    Those looking for living history exhibits at the 21st annual Pymatuning Pioneer & Art Festival weren’t disappointed Saturday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Organizers ready to stimulate Meadville with next weekend's Thunder in the City

    Started six years ago by Dave Stone, owner of Mickey’s Central Station, as an event to “increase commerce and stimulate the economy,” the annual Thunder in the City Classic Car and Motorcycle Show in Meadville has done that — and lots more.

    July 25, 2014

  • Conneautville celebrating 200 years

    Thursday was a relaxed opening day at the Conneautville Bicentennial Celebration, but things will get hopping today — literally. A frog jumping contest is scheduled for 6 p.m.

    July 25, 2014

  • PennDOT seeking outside help to make bridge repairs

    State officials are poised to sign a massive deal that will enlist outside help to rebuild and maintain up to 600 bridges, marking the Corbett administration’s latest foray into privatizing key government functions.

    July 24, 2014

  • Stabbing charges dismissed against Bloomfield woman

    A Bloomfield Township woman accused of stabbing her live-in companion last month is a free woman after the alleged victim in the case didn’t appear in court Wednesday.

    July 24, 2014

  • Guys Mills boy wins national PBS Kids Writers Contest

    July 24, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks