Bystanders in their own words

A roundup of first-person accounts of the explosions and their aftermath near the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday:

"All of a sudden you heard a big boom, and saw a big cloud of white smoke right around beyond the church."

-- Laura McGinness, 40, of Bedford, Mass., who had just finished the marathon and was retrieving her belongings from the park in Copley Square in front of Trinity Church

"I could see that the explosion was right at the pavilion. It was one of those that the flames go up, you know?"

-- Steve Lemott, who was handing out Gatorade to runners just past the finish line when the first bomb exploded

"I happened to have my head out of the window at the time because one of our runners had crossed and I was continuing to watch runners cross the finish line. When I did, looking out to my right seeing the first explosion, from my vantage point on the left side of the street. Looking at it, I was thinking to myself, 'Did that just happen and is that what I think it is?' And right when I was thinking that, people started running toward me, and I realized what it was when I felt the second explosion to the rear of where I was looking out and sort of felt the whoosh from behind my head. I was in the middle of both explosions and looked to the left and saw the same thing happen there."

-- Tedy Bruschi, who was watching the marathon from a hotel between the two explosion sites

"Two explosions went off in quick succession. ... Everybody stopped, looked toward the entrance [of the medical tent], and it got very quiet. It slowly kind of sunk in that those were explosions. It kind of turned from people running around helping runners to a lot of nervousness. Immediately EMTs and wheelchairs and everything just started hauling toward the entrance on Boylston."

-- Dan Benshoff, ESPN employee and race participant

"I was watching my wife, who was actually about 10 seconds from finishing when the first explosion went off, and she saw the first explosion and started backing up and holding her ears. And the second one went off, pretty much directly to her left. And then I jumped over the barricades into the streets, and so did everyone else."

-- Randy Willardsen, who was watching the mararthon between the two explosion sites, waiting for his wife to finish

"I was at Copley Square and the finish is right in front of the library, about 300 yards away or so. My father was at the finish line and he's OK. I did link up with him, thank God. The rest of my family was up on the route. I'm grateful they didn't come up."

-- Joey McIntyre, 40, member of New Kids On The Block who ran the marathon

"I had finished the race about 15 minutes prior to the explosions going off, met my friends. We were in a restaurant on Newbury Street, a block from the finish line, and we heard one of the explosions go off. We kind of went into a panic mode. ... We didn't know if we should run outside, stay inside... then all of a sudden we heard the second bomb go off. We went into the corner, I kind of had a panic attack because I was just there. ... Once we found out it was a bomb, we started running toward the river, and as we were running we saw multiple people outside bloody, injured... This is just the worst thing that could have happened."

-- Danielle Schneider, marathon participant

"I was running for my cousin who has ALS, I was running for the Peter Frates foundation. ... Everyone didn't know what was going on, I passed Boston College and the Mile 24 Citgo. I don't think people knew what happened. When we got to the Citgo sign, about 300 feet down, they just went nuts and told everybody we couldn't cross. And at that point, I had no idea what had happened. My wife is OK and my friend from New York is OK."

-- Matthew Cloyd, 28, of Beverly, Mass.

"People were running away because debris was coming into the restaurant. They started evacuating and some people ran out the back door. ... We were afraid and didn't know what to do. We didn't want to go outside, not knowing what to expect."

-- Emma Sparta-Burk, who was sitting at a table on the second floor of a Boylston Street restaurant to get a view of the finish line

"You're fatigued, you're tired, you're not in the best state of mind as it is. I saw some people completely falling apart."

-- Ashley Labrier, 22, Tufts student from California who was watching the marathon

"It was just immediately [evident] there were injuries, right in the middle of the spectator crowds. There was blood everywhere, there were victims being carried out on stretchers. I saw someone lose their leg, people are crying, people are confused."

-- Steve Silva, Boston.com sports producer as told to The Boston Globe

"You could smell it -- it smelled like a giant firecracker. ... Then there was immediate pandemonium."
-- Beck Dangler, who was watching the marathon from a fifth-floor patio near the finish line, as told to NBC News

"Somebody's leg flew by my head. I gave my belt to stop the blood."

-- John Ross, a marathon spectator, as told to The Boston Herald

"They just started bringing people in with no limbs."

-- Tim Davey of Richmond, Va., a marathoner who was inside the medical tent near the finish line after the explosion, as told to AP

"They just kept filling up with more and more casualties. Most everybody was conscious. They were very dazed."

-- Lisa Davey, of the medical tent scene, as told to AP

"I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor. We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."

-- Roupen Bastajian, a state trooper from Rhode Island who had just finished the marathon when he heard the blasts, via AP