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Family’s Marathon Nightmare

Mineola family recounts Boston Marathon attacks

Four hours, 12 minutes would have been her time. She was close enough to hear the booms, but never finished the race.


Barbara Stagnari’s husband Jack and daughter Jackie on the other hand, had a clearer view. Stagnari, a Mineola resident, was initially unaware of what happened on Monday, April 15 on Boylston Street in Boston, MA, when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 


Stagnari, 51, was on Beacon Street about to turn the corner onto Hereford Street when the first bomb exploded near Sugar Haven Candy Store. At first, she thought it was thunder. After the second explosion near the Mandarin and Lenox Hotels, Stagnari knew something was wrong.

“We all heard the boom,” she said. “Everyone looked at each other and we thought it was thunder. Then we heard another one and everybody really slowed down and looked at each other, wondering what was going on.”

At around 2:45 p.m., Jack, a retired FDNY fireman, was waiting for Barbara to sprint onto the final stretch, when he heard a big “pop.”

“I’m waiting on one side of the street, my daughter and her boyfriend are waiting across the street and that’s when we heard it,” he said. “We looked down Boylston; saw a lot of gray smoke, a lot of black smoke.”

Jackie, 18, a student at Northeastern University, celebrated her birthday on Saturday, April 13. She said after the second explosion, policemen raced toward the finish line before a woman screamed and dropped to her knees, crying.

“My boyfriend was taller than the people we were standing in front of so he had seen the explosion on the ground as well so he knew it was something worse,” she said. “He started insisting we leave and then the second explosion went off and we all realized something was wrong.”

Jack, 55, thought it was a transformer explosion and about 12 seconds later, the second bang sounded, with more smoke billowing on into the sky. “My daughter who had a better sight, saw a fire flash,” said Jack.


Moments after the second blast, Stagnari checked her phone and saw text messages from her husband reading “Call me!” and her daughter saying “where are you?” Runners were cramping around her from stopping so abruptly in the 26-mile race.


“I couldn’t get in touch with them,” Stagnari stated. “For some reason, they got through to me, but I couldn’t get through to them. I felt confusion; a daze. Within a couple of minutes a lot of security guys came up and took up the barricades that kept the crowd out and threw them up across the street.”


The family didn’t reunite until three hours after the incident at the Sheraton Hotel on Dalton Street. The Stagnari’s had rented an apartment for the race one block from the finish line. Getting to their temporary home was too tall a task.


“We couldn’t get [Barbara] showered, some new clothes or warmed up,” Jack stated. “Luckily I was able to get a room at the Sheraton. The next morning, I walked over to the apartment building and a National Guard military police officer was kind enough to walk me into the building.”


Greater Long Island Running Club President Mike Polansky told Anton Community Newspapers that the 50 or so Long Island runners were all accounted for and safe.


“Why target runners? We’re just stunned that anyone would do that at that kind of venue,” Polansky said of the Boston attacks.


Stagnari still plans to run in the Long Island Marathon set for May 5. “I was looking forward to it.” 


Nassau County officials held a security briefing on Wednesday, April 17 to address concerns surrounding the safety of runners in next month’s marathon. More meetings are expected leading up to the race, according to county officials.


“We will continue to work together, gather intelligence and devote all of our resources and key personnel to protect our residents and visitors,” County Executive Edward P. Mangano said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”