Photographer recounts scene after the blasts

Staff reports%%The MetroWest Daily News

MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News staff photographer Ken McGagh was busy shooting photos at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, something he has done many times over the years. The crowd cheered as runners neared and crossed the line, where they were met by a steady stream of volunteers who checked how they were doing and ushered them toward water or the medical tent, if they needed help.

"The marathon finish line scene is usually one of celebration, people collapsing from exhaustion, and crazy costumes," the veteran news photographer wrote in an email from the Copley Plaza, where he had filed his photos to the news desk in the hours after the blasts.

Suddenly, McGagh said he heard two explosions and the scene immediately took on a different hue.

"When I heard the explosions I moved forward a short distance, walking I guess," McGagh wrote. "I did hear two explosions. They were very loud and sounded like a cannon."

McGagh said he didn't smell smoke but it was wafting skyward after the initial blasts.

"People were initially eerily quiet, silent almost," he wrote. "Cops initially ran towards me and the finish line area. Then they moved towards the injured, and they had to break apart the fencing separating them from the injured."

McGagh moved into the chaos, taking photos and moving along the line of metal barriers and wooden snow fencing. Injured people were all around and emergency workers, race volunteers and everyday spectators were rushing in to help.

"Police, fire, Marathon officials and others tore down the fencing separating them from the injured in front of Marathon Sports on Boylston Street," McGagh wrote.

"I heard a guy say that he was military and that he could help. I could see that there were some horrific injuries," McGagh recalled.