The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.
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Columbia Restaurant’s Casey Gonzmart Near Boston Marathon Finish Line; “Sounded Like Sonic Boom”
Posted Apr 15, 2013 by Jeff Houck
Updated Apr 15, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Casey Gonzmart felt the ground shake underneath him Monday when the explosions began less than two blocks from where he was standing on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon..
Gonzmart, chairman of the board of the Columbia Restaurant Group in Tampa, was walking toward the VIP grandstand to see his wife, Heidi, finish her fourth marathon and her first in Boston.
Looking up, he saw the fireball of the first explosion.
“It sounded like a sonic boom,” he said Monday from his room at the Fairmount Copley hotel. “I knew it was a bomb.”
He watched as Massachusetts State Police and other first-responders flooded the area where the explosion happened.
He knew his wife was nearing the end of the race, but could not find her location because she wasn’t running with a cellphone.
What he did not know was that she had been stopped at Mile 25 of the 26.2-mile race.
“It was kind of strange,” she said. “All the roads had been blocked for marathon, but then emergency vehicles started coming through with sirens on. Then cops on motorcycles went by really close to the runners.
Someone along the route told her there had been an accident at finish line. A few minutes later, another person came through the crowd walking the opposite direction passing ice to runners.
Racers eventually were given foil blankets for warmth and diverted to a nearby hotel lobby. A woman let her borrow a cellphone to make a call. About two hours later, the couple made contact by phone. Gonzmart had been running with a Police Athletic League group. They were able to escort her back to the hotel, which is in an area that was locked down for security.
Only minutes before the explosions, Gonzmart sent his brother Richard, a photo of racers passing his spot on Broylston Street. Richard Gonzmart, an avid runner, had planned to run the marathon but injured his leg two weeks ago.
Only the night before, the Gonzmarts visited the finish line on Sunday to see where he would be sitting at the end of her race.
“It was a gorgeous day,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the people who were hurt.”