BOSTON (CBS) – For Marathon Sports employees near the finish line, it was a day to enjoy being together and to celebrate the joy of running. Brand Marketing Manager, Dan Soleau was in front of the store on Boylston Street cheering on runners when he heard what sounded like a high-pitched whistle. He tells WBZ-TV’s Lisa Hughes it sounded like a firework going off. And then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a fiery blast. Windows behind him blew out. Soleau, who was standing on a bench just feet from the blast, was knocked to the ground. He blacked out.
When Soleau came to, he was surrounded by people rushing in to help and people who were injured. The alarms in the surrounding buildings were going off. He was rushed into the store by fellow employees who were already helping the wounded. Soleau described running downstairs for water and helping two women who’d been injured by flying glass.
When he returned to the main floor of the store, the scene was horrific. “It was terrible,” Soleau says. “It was the worst thing I have ever seen.” Marathon Sports staff members were tending to the injured. They were applying compresses, using shirts—even their own belts—to tie off serious wounds. They acted on instinct, he says. They wouldn’t tell you they were brave or heroic. It was, instinctively, what they knew they had to do.
Soleau moved to the front of the store to bring water to people who were injured outside. He says, “I wanted to be useful.” That’s when a first responder told him that the best thing he could do was to leave the area. He and a group of employees met behind the store for a group hug and parted ways. All of the employees are safe. None were injured.
Since then, like many witnesses, Soleau says he’s felt numb. He watches news reports and scans the Internet for information. But even if police arrest a suspect, he says, it won’t change the awful reality—that the bombs on Boylston Street killed three people and injured at least 170 more. “It doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t make my co-workers forget what they had to see, what they had to do. It’s not going to make me forget. It’s not going to put limbs back on anybody’s body. It’s not going to pull carpenter nails or BB’s or shards of concrete and wood out of anybody’s wounds.”
Watch Extended Interview With Soleau
What will help in the healing, he says, is time and the comfort of friends and family.
Soleau went for his first run since the bombing on Wednesday morning. It was empowering, he said and the best thing he could have done. He ran along the Charles feeling defiant and victorious. The small act of running made him feel strong. He imagined all the other runners he saw on his route as foot soldiers in an effort to combat evil.
The running community, he believes, is stronger than ever. Soleau hopes, next year, he’ll either be running the Boston Marathon or back out on Boylston Street watching the race and cheering until he loses his voice. As close as he felt to his co-workers before Monday, he now says—as a family—they are even closer.