What was supposed to be a joyous celebration at Ecco Restaurant to mark their daughter’s completion of the Boston Marathon turned into a somber reunion after two bombs rocked the annual event near the finish line Monday afternoon killing three and maiming over a hundred others.
Dave Modica and Carla Santarpio, owners of Santarpio’s Pizza and Ecco in East Boston, had just left City Councilor Sal LaMattina at Abe and Louis’ to watch their daughter Nicole and her friend Jess Cyjan cross the finish line. It was the second Boston Marathon Nicole, a Clemson University student, had run for charity.
“We had just gotten to the VIP section and took our seats on the bleachers,” said Modica. “We had just taken a picture of one of our friends crossing the finish line when the bomb went off.”
Modica and Santarpio were directly across the street from the first explosion and seconds later heard the second bomb go off.
In the ensuing chaos, Modica and Santarpio knew their daughter and her friend were close to the finish line.
“Jess was a half mile out and Nicole was less than a half mile behind her,” said Modica.
Without hesitation, Santarpio jumped from the bleachers and began running up Boylston Street desperately looking for her daughter while Modica made sure Nicole wasn’t among the victims lying motionless on the street.
“I was a little less than a mile from the finish line and they stopped us,” said Nicole. “We really didn’t know what happened but the rumors started to spread through the crowd.”
Her friend Jess was the first to hear the news.
“Someone came up and said they are shutting the race down,” said Jess. “What was supposed to be such a happy day because our group had raised over $11 million for charity turned into a nightmare.”
Both Nicole and Jess tried to make sense of the senseless act later at Ecco.
“Whoever did this targeted people that were running for charity, running for kids with cancer, it’s a horrible thing,” said Nicole.
Modica and Santarpio found their daughter near Massachusetts Avenue among the thousands of runners that were stopped in their tracks.
“When I finally saw my mom I just burst into tears,” said Nicole.
The tearful reunion will forever be in Santarpio’s memory.
“I’m just trying to put what I saw out of my mind,” said Santarpio. “I’m just so happy she’s okay.”
LaMattina was with friends at Abe and Louis’ when the bombs went off.
“I was in the back when the ground shook,” said LaMattina. “Then I heard the second explosion and people started running and screaming. Then the whole restaurant started to fill with smoke and that’s when people started to panic.”
LaMattina exited the restaurant through the rear door.
“It was chaos on the street. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was one of the scariest moments of my life,” said LaMattina.