Where they were

Boston Marathon

THERE ARE MOMENTS in life that stay with you, whether you want them to or not. They're the ones etched into your mind's eye, the ones you can see, hear, smell and feel for days, weeks, months and even years later.

Where were you when ... ?

For these moments, that's an easy question. I was at home. I was at work. I was there ...

Depending on your age, the touchstone is different, but the effect is the same: The Kennedy assassination. The moon landing. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

All moments that resonate, that hold a special place in the social consciousness.

Where were you at 2:49 p.m. ET on April 15, 2013? Where were you when the bombs went off near the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon?

On the one-year anniversary of the attack on Boylston Street that killed three and wounded more than 260, ESPNBoston.com talked to nine people who were on the scene or deeply impacted and asked them all that question. Their perspectives represent a range of experiences people had that day: a runner who finished, and one who was stopped; a civilian first responder and his wife; a medical tent volunteer; members of Boston police and emergency medical services; the former mayor; a spectator turned survivor.

These are their stories:

DAN MERCURIO HAD just crossed the finish line, completing his second Boston. A local kid, Mercurio worked for the dean of students at his alma mater, Boston University, and felt a close connection to the marathon because of all the years he'd seen it course by BU.

He didn't know, he couldn't have known, just how close the bombings would hit to home.

"The timing really couldn't have been worse for when I crossed the finish line," he said. "It was just seconds later, I hadn't even gotten my medal yet and the first bomb went off. First it was just shock -- no one was sure what had happened. There were a lot of people standing by me who thought a pipe had burst or a gas cover or one of those things had popped off, or it was somebody shooting a firework off or just some hooligan doing something stupid.

"I hadn't even gotten to the tables [in the chute beyond the finish line] yet. I had crossed the finish line and gotten maybe 30-40 yards, and I was going very slowly because I was waiting for a friend of mine who was [running] behind me. And then the explosion went off and it was at first just initial shock. All the runners, we all turned around -- hundreds of runners were coming across at that point -- and we were all turned around, like looking, kind of stunned like 'What was that?' When the second one went off, it clicked in everyone's head that this was planned, this was staged, this was an attack of some kind and we all turned to run.

"And when you've got hundreds of runners who've just finished a marathon, our legs weren't necessarily working all too well to then go from zero to starting to try to sprint out of the area, because we thought something else was gonna happen, too. So there were a lot of people falling on each other, so there was an initial chaotic minute where everyone was trying to sprint out of the way, kind of in fear that we were in danger, which was really surreal."

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