In Boston, a text message brings ‘true relief’: Amidst panic, Emmons family finds each other

Panicked crowds and no phone service added to the fears for a Hood River family separated just yards away at the time of the Boston bombings.

“The phone system was overloaded, there were so many people calling, and no one could get through,” said Shawn Emmons, who had finished the marathon, her second, in 3:41.

She was at the family meeting area a few hundred yards away when the explosions happened, looking for her mother, Caroline DeBorde, and daughter, Denali, who had been in the area between the blasts a few minutes earlier.

DeBorde and Denali had seen the flashes and plumes, not knowing where Shawn was.

“We saw the smoke, and a little fire came up but then everyone was running everywhere, and there police and sirens,” said Denali, an HRVHS freshman. Her father is HRMS Principal Brent Emmons.

“It was really scary,” said Denali, at her first Boston Marathon.

“We saw both of the explosions, we were about a block away,” Denali said. “We heard this really loud sound, and we were walking towards it, and saw a huge plume of smoke, and seconds later another plume a little bit further away. We were not sure what it was; someone thought it was a propane tank but when the second one went off we knew that wasn’t what it was.”

“Total relief!” is how DeBorde described her feeling when, a few minutes later; she got a text from Shawn, saying she was at the family meeting area.

“We said, ‘Where is the family meeting area?’” DeBorde said.

She finally made her way between buses and got the answer from a marathon volunteer, and they were able to reach Shawn. From there they returned to their motel, across the street from Tufts University Medical Center, and followed official advice and stayed in the hotel the rest of the night.

Shawn had some respiratory problems just after finishing the race and had been in the medical tent at the bomb site about a half an hour before the blast, but had since left, and was trying to locate her family at the time of incident.

“We were just trying to find my mom,” Denali said. “We were at the end of the buses and didn’t know where the family meeting area was, trying to find her, and as we were trying to get closer, the police said, ‘You can’t go through.’ We were just trying to find a way.”

All three family members are safe and will travel from the Boston area to Washington, D.C., prior to returning to the Gorge.

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