A Dallas woman who finished the Boston Marathon about a minute before the first bomb exploded saw a "flash of red" and described a scene of bedlam.
"I had just finished. I hadn't even gotten my medal yet," Julie Baldwin Brown said. "I was that close."
Brown, an avid runner who works at Luke's Locker on Mockingbird Lane, said she wasn't sure what had happened at first.
"When the bomb went off, it was so loud, I thought, 'Maybe it was for Patriot's Day;' that it was a cannon," she said. "Then I thought, 'That's not right.'"
"And the next one went off soon after that," she said in a telephone interview from her downtown Boston hotel. "I saw a flash of light, a flash of red."
She said nobody seemed sure what to do but that medical workers who were already there for the race ran toward the blast to help the injured.
"Nobody knew what was going on," she said. "I heard, 'We need wheelchairs.' It's just been bedlam ever since."
Brown, 56, a news photographer for NBC 5 in the 1980s, said her fiance was behind her and was diverted when organizers stopped the race. The two managed to reunite later.
"The finish line is a crime scene," she said. "Investigators are looking for anything laying around."
Brown said the timing of the blasts appeared timed to inflict the most casualties -- when many runners finish around the four-hour mark.
"I finished just before four (hours)," she said.
"It looked like an earthquake where people fell," she said. "At that point (in the race), you're so wobbly. You're giving it all you've got."
Most of the injured appear to have been spectators, she noted.
She said it was difficult to return to her hotel as a line of about 80 people waited for elevators. Her room is on the seventh floor.
As Brown spoke, sirens could be heard in the background.
"It's really crazy here," she said.