Close up to a nightmare

By Mike Henneke

Rexburg couple were sleeping two blocks away when explosions happened in Boston

When Paul and JoAnn Eddins landed in Boston early Monday for a work conference, the Rexburg couple had no idea that they had arrived on the same day as the Boston Marathon.

Little did they know that they would have front row seats to the latest national tragedy to strike America.

Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 140. And the Eddins are two blocks away.

“It was kind of surreal,” said Paul Eddins from their hotel late Monday night. “Is this really happening?”

JoAnn, who is the director of the Madison Memorial Hospital Surgery Center, flew to Boston for a work conference. Paul, who owns an auto repair shop in town, accompanied her on the trip.

Their room wouldn’t be ready unti later that day. Despite their exhaustion from traveling all night, they knew they couldn’t pass up a chance to see the historic Boston Marathon.

From about a half block away from the finish line. they saw examples of the human spirit, while enjoying the friendliness of the crowd packed around the finish line along Boyleston Street.

As more runners crossed the line, the crowd became more like a mosh pit. They were in danger of getting separated.

They agreed it was time to return to the Boston Marriott Place Copley Place a few blocks away.

Two blocks away from their room on the 25th floor of the Boston Marriott Copley, the Eddins watched a little more of the race from their window before settling down to rest from flying all night.

The first explosion woke up JoAnn. The second one came about 10 seconds later, much louder than the first. The Eddins thought it was part of the celebration from the holiday atmosphere down below.

“And then the sirens,” Paul said.

From their window, they could see smoke rising from the finish line below. Memories of 9/11 came rushing back for both of them.

As they watched events unfold in front of them, the Eddins realized the origin of the second blast happened right across the street where they were standing earlier that day.

Had they not moved, the Eddins may have been directly in the blast zone. It was a sobering thought for both of them.

“We spent the afternoon thinking about our families,” Paul said. How easy it was to take things for granted.

Despite the tragedy, the Eddins watched people come together, strangers helping each other and even finer examples of the human spirit than what they witnessed earlier that day.

As for her conference? It might be canceled. No matter what, Madison Hospital officials are encouraging JoAnn and her husband to leave town early. Because their safety is far more important than a work conference, they said.

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