When Sebring resident Peter Lewia ran in the Boston Marathon Monday it was a good event for him. The weather was favorable and he felt good.
And that was not only good for Lewia in regards to doing well in the marathon, but also those factors may have saved him from being injured.
If he had been participating at his average pace, he said, “I would have been in the neighborhood,” of the finish line where two explosions killed three people and injured more than 100 others, he said.
“That was the thought that crossed my mind right away,” Lewia said.
Instead, Lewia had finished the event at about 2:30 p.m., about 20 minutes before the explosions at about 2:50 p.m.
Lewia said after he crossed the finish line he passed through several areas where stations existed providing medical checks, sheets for participants to keep warm, food, water and porta potties.
He was about three blocks away from the finish line at the time of the explosions, he said.
Lewia said he heard an explosion and saw a plume of smoke. “There was just enough time to look up before there was another explosion.”
He said he felt immediately there was something terribly wrong. “I knew that was not supposed to happen at the marathon,” Lewia said.
“We were trying to get out of the area,” he said, following the explosions. “This was not a place where people wanted to be.”
It took some time, however, to get out of the area and find a subway entrance that was opened, he said.
When he got to the airport Tuesday, Lewia said, authorities questioned him, as well as anyone one else wearing marathon-related clothing. They wanted to know if he saw anything unusual or had any photos or video that could be helpful in the investigation.
Lewia said the actions of the perpetrator or perpetrators was “cowardly,” particularly because the explosions went off where a lot of children and their family members waited for loved ones to complete the race.
He believes the security was reasonable. “I think there was enough security, because I don’t know what else could be done.”
Lewia said that if security was tightened much more, “we might have to give up some of our rights and freedoms.”
The only place where adding security might be good is at the starting point where there’s so many people close together, he said.
He’s been a resident of Sebring for 35 years and works as a nurse at Good Shepherd Hospice.
Every year he participates in a few marathons and this was the eighth Boston Marathon in which he’s been a participant.
His good performance that put him past the finish line before the explosions, qualified him for next year’s event. Lewia said the explosions will have no bearing on whether he goes next year.
“I don’t want my life to ruled by terror,” he said.