Valley runners describe explosions at Boston Marathon

FRESNO, Calif.

Action News talked with the wife and sister of two first time participants. Sanger resident Norma Gonzalez said both her husband Phillip and her brother, former Fresno City councilman Brad Castillo, took part in the race.

She said, she was tracking their progress online when she discovered Phillip had already crossed the finish line when the bombs went off. That's when she picked up the phone to warn him not to go back to the finish line to watch Castillo finish the race.

"He said he heard two loud booms and then a lady saying there was a big crater in the road by the finish line. He said it was chaotic. People were screaming, a man he thinks was a veteran was screaming we're going to die, we're going to die, run for your life, run for your life," she said. "There were families crying that couldn't find their family members."

Shortly after talking with her husband, Gonzalez said she learned her brother Brad had been stopped just a mile from the finish line. Brad, said over the phone, authorities had stopped thousands of people and began bringing in busses to transport them to a safer location.

Castillo said it was his lifelong goal to run in the Boston Marathon and that he was disappointed to learn he wouldn't be able to finish because hundreds of people were injured by the explosions.

"When we got stopped I would say there was about 20,000 people in front of me and another 10,000 behind me and it was so cold," he said. "People were hugging each other, crying, they couldn't believe it. Just total disbelief."

Phillip Gonzalez said people waiting near the finish line were scared to move. He said many of them had been separated from their family and friends also running the race and were having trouble reaching them on by phone.

"It's just real emotional here. People are so nice and for this to happen is terrible," he said. "Just seeing the people with their families here. Just stuff is going through my mind. I hope they find everyone they're looking for. It's just chaos. I'm praying for everyone."

Some of the Valley's fastest runners including Maria Rivera of Visalia and Fresno Unified Spanish teacher Jesus Campos were also uninjured in the explosions. District Spokesperson Jamilah Fraser said Campos finished 37th in the race and had finished nearly two hours before the blasts.

Other Valley runners, who couldn't get through on their cell phones, took to Twitter and Facebook to let their loved ones know they were ok, including a group from Visalia and Kingsburg. Runners Scott Newton of Kingsburg. Matt and Phil Stovall of Visalia and spectator Nancy Stovall reported they were safe and sound.

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