Sevierville teacher was two blocks from Boston Marathon blasts
As Sevierville Middle School teacher Mandy Young heard the loud booms echo through Boston on Monday, her first thought was that the sounds were coming from the festivities surrounding the city's 117th marathon.
"It sounded like a cannon," she said. "We heard the two booms, several seconds apart."
Young, 32, had finished the race earlier in the afternoon and was standing with her husband Garrett — a middle school special-education teacher — just two blocks away from the finish area.
The pair didn't realize something had gone wrong until she heard murmuring throughout the crowded streets that it had been two bombs.
"At first, before we realized what it was, we weren't scared," Young said Tuesday afternoon, as she and her husband drove through North Carolina on the way home. "We were just trying to figure out where we were in relation to our hotel."
But things quickly changed.
"Within a couple of minutes things started getting chaotic as word started spreading that it was bomb," she said.
"(The police) didn't say, 'It's a bomb! Run, evacuate, hide!' Nothing like that," she said. "The police officers seemed like they were mainly focused on getting the roads cleared. Getting you out of the road, pushing you aside. All the roads were barricaded so they were trying to get it cleared to let other police and firefighters in."
While the situation — which, to date, has killed three and injured 140 — pales in comparison to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Young said was hard to suppress thoughts of the World Trade Center disaster.
"We were trying to think: Was this a terrorist or some just some crazy person?" she said. "But (9/11) is exactly what you think back to."
Looking for a way out of the city was the Youngs' first priority.
"When we found out it was a bomb, fear and panic set in," she said. "We tried to figure out a way back to the hotel or how to get to the airport, but we were more or less stuck. It was scary."
With trains not running and taxis either filled or not stopping for passengers, the Youngs were four miles from their hotel, which was across the water from the marathon location.
Young was much too tired to try walking — she'd just run 26 miles — so they went inside a Dunkin Donuts to figure out their next step.
"Our plan was to take a ferry over the water back to the hotel, but before we got there we actually found a trolley (going that way)," she said.
In the end, it took the Youngs around 2 1/2 hours to make the four-mile trip back to their hotel.
After they made it back, however, things went smoothly for the couple, who were able to catch an 8 a.m. flight Tuesday from Logan Airport to LaGuardia in New York and then on to Charlotte.
From North Carolina the pair drove home, ready to see their 6-year-old daughter and return to work at Sevierville Middle, where she teaches seventh-grade math and he teaches in the eighth grade.
"We were glad we didn't have our little girl up there trying to drag her around and get her to safety," Young confided, adding that they'd seen one small child almost hit by a police motorcycle after he'd dashed in the street. "It was scary."