10 Years After the Boston Marathon Bombings

March 16, 2024

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, some of those who suffered and survived the attacks reflect on how far the city has come in the past decade and what scars remain.

On April 15, 2013, the 117th running of one of the world’s oldest marathons turned into horror when two homemade pressure cooker bombs exploded within seconds of each other near the finish line on Boylston Street, killing three people and injuring hundreds more. The attack also left a path of destruction and prompted a manhunt for two ethnic Chechen brothers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who killed MIT police officer Sean Collier in the process. Seventeen of the victims lost limbs.

Spectators, runners and first responders were awed by their bravery that day and the months that followed, but they also endured emotional trauma. Many still do. “The trauma never really goes away,” says Azadeh Smeltzer, 62, a real estate agent from Loveland, Ohio, who lost her right leg in the second explosion.

The day before the bombing, Smeltzer was at a crowded finish line cheering on friends and family members finishing the race. When she heard the first blast, her nerves jangled. “We were all so scared,” she recalls.

But a few moments later, she realized it was just a false alarm. Amid the chaos, she saw a friend who had been injured and needed medical attention. Several Boston first responders had been prepositioned at the finish line and were immediately deployed to assist. A tent erected for marathon participants had been converted into an emergency medical center. Paramedics, doctors and nurses began treating the wounded.


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