Portland runners unhurt in explosions

Dave Harkin (right) owns Portland Running Company. He finished the Boston Marathon before two explosions near the finish line (Courtesy photo, April 15, 2013)
Dave Harkin (right) owns Portland Running Company. He finished the Boston Marathon before two explosions near the finish line (Courtesy photo, April 15, 2013)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Brian Berchtold was nearing the finish line at the Boston Marathon when the explosions went off. He was running the marathon to raise money for charity and told his parents he was getting ready to sprint to the finish line when he saw the explosion ahead of him.

Then the second explosion took place parallel to him on his left. Berchtold, 48, was hit by debris but was not hurt.

Brian Berchtold of Portland was near the finish line when explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. He was not hurt. (Courtesy, undated photo)
Brian Berchtold of Portland was near the finish line when explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. He was not hurt. (Courtesy, undated photo)

He was grabbed by someone and brought to the ground. The runners in that area all entered the Apple store where employees took them into the basement and gave them cell phones to use.

His parents spoke with him Monday afternoon and told KOIN 6 News he’s shaken but OK and will return to Portland soon.

“He was so excited to be back there running the Boston and then to hear that and see the disaster and bodies and everyone running to help,” his father, Jim Berchtold said. “He said in the message that somebody grabbed him and pulled him down.”

“He was not able to finish the race,” his step-mother Amy Dundon-Berchtold said. “He was just shy of the finish line and for that maybe we wind up being thankful.”

Dave Harkin was in his hotel about two blocks from the finish line at the Boston Marathon when two explosions rocked the area, killing two and wounding dozens.

Salem doctor safe
Dr. Lazeni Koulibali was among the 351 Oregonians who ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon. He survived two explosions near the finish line. (April 15, 2013 | KOIN 6 News)

He and Dr. Lazeni Koulibali are among the 351 Oregonians who ran in the marathon on Monday.

Harkin, the owner of Portland Running Company, finished 128th in the race. His wife, Paula, was just watching the race and was with her husband at the hotel at the time.

Photos: Explosions at the Boston Marathon

He told KOIN 6 News they were evacuated from their hotel after the explosion and were invited by a local resident to stay in his apartment. He said they expect to get back to their hotel Monday night.

Koulibali, an emergency doctor in Salem, also ran the marathon Monday, and like Harkin, the explosions happened just after he got back to his hotel room.

He finished the race around 12:30 PT and went back to his hotel about a half-mile from the finish line. He could hear the sound of sirens and emergenNW runnerscy vehicles rushing by, then saw the devastation when he turned on his television.

Koulibali told KOIN 6 News it was difficult to get phone calls out from Boston, but he was able to reach his wife. He also was able to text message other friends who ran in the marathon.

He’s looking forward to getting back to his wife and four children on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a 78-year-old Washington state man — running his third Boston Marathon — was nearing the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts, The (Everett, Wash.) Herald reports.

Bill Iffrig of Lake Stevens told The Herald he heard a noise, then found himself on the ground. He says he ended up with a scrape on his knee.

Related resources:

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(AP) — Google is stepping in to help family and friends of Boston Marathon runners find their loved ones after explosions near the finish line.

The site, called Google Person Finder, allows users to enter the name of a person they’re looking for or enter information about someone who is there.

Cellphone use has been difficult in the Boston area. A law enforcement official says cell service was shut down to prevent any possible remote detonations of explosives. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.

Far-flung family members and friends are frantically using social media to check on the safety of runners and spectators after two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon, killing two and injuring dozens.

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