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Chicago area responds to Boston Marathon bombings

The Chicago area is reacting and responding to the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

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Chicago area marathoners are returning home from Boston to heightened security at O’Hare International Airport. runners return

So far there are no reports of any Chicagoans being among the casualties.

Runners arriving home to Chicago this morning seemed physically and emotionally exhausted, some still processing what happened.

Bob Hart of Hinsdale had already finished the race when the explosions went off.  He was celebrating at a restaurant with his family just two blocks away.

“I’m relieved.  I’m very tired and I’m just looking to get some rest,” Hart said.  “I haven’t read much about what happened, so I’d like to, once more news comes out.”

Other Chicagoans were also nearby.  “I thought it was kind of eerie, like nobody really knew what was going on.  It was was very somber and quiet,” said runner Katy Gentile.

Frank Kuhlman was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when most were cleared out.  “I saw one man in a wheelchair with two separate legs, so these were extremely severe injuries,” Kuhlman told WGN.

Jess Mescal of northwest Indiana was among the earliest finishers.  He says this year’s Boston Marathon will forever be a sad reminder of tragedy.

To honor those killed and injured yesterday the Chicago Area Runners Association is hosting a special unity run tonight.  It will start out at the Foster Avenue Beach House at 6 p.m.  All are welcome to take part.

Two airline passengers were removed from their flight from Boston to Chicago Tuesday morning. airplanes

It happened aboard United Airlines flight 636.

The plane was scheduled to leave just after 5 a.m. Tuesday.

But, its crew requested travelers and their bags go through screening again.

The flight didn’t take-off until about three hours later.

Check back for more details.

Phoner: Mark Colpoys, Vice President of Marketing and Operations of Chicago’s Fleet Feet, talks to WGN Morning News on tragic Boston Marathon experience.

There were hundreds of runners from the Chicago-area that participated in the the Boston Marathon and witnessed the explosions.

At last report, none of them was among those injured in the blasts.

Many of those runners flew home Monday, arriving at O’Hare Airport with stories of what they witnessed.

Brad Moats, of Chicago, says he crossed the finish line about an hour before the explosions and he was eating lunch nearby when he heard the blasts and saw crowds of runners sprinting from the area.  He was able to make it to the airport and catch his flight home.

Andre Bannetan said Monday was his first Boston Marathon but he plans to be back to support the organization and the city in the wake of the terror attack.

Arlington Heights Mayor-elect Tom Hayes ran his ninth Boston Marathon Monday.  He said he was focused on finishing the race and didn’t think about security, but he says it will definitely be on his mind the next time.

Among those flying to Chicago Monday was Carey Pinkowski, the executive director of the Bank of American Chicago Marathon.

Pinkowski said during his flight home several runners asked him to “keep doing what he was doing”.    He said he will meet with several agencies Tuesday to talk about security for the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2013.

Pinkowski also said he will also work with the officials from the Boston Marathon to make sure Chicago is prepared for more than 40,000 runners.

Phoner: Corey Puckett, runner from Orland Park, talks to WGN Morning News on tragic Boston Marathon experience

Local runners give first hand accounts of explosions in Boston.

In the Chicago area, police, transit agencies and emergency agencies were stepping up security in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, but a Chicago Police spokesman said in a statement that the agencys is “not aware of any threats facing Chicago.”

Police were making checks on buildings and sites considered possible high-priority targets. The city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications was broadcasting over police-band radios a reminder to officers to follow proper procedures when investigating suspicious packages and suspicious purposes, and keep in mind the possibility that if one explosive device is found, another—or secondary—device may also be present.

Metra acknowledged that it was stepping up security, and cautioned riders they might see “an increased police presence” at downtown stations and on trains, according to a statement posted on its website. Metra, the CTA and other agencies were urging riders to notify officials if they see anything suspicious.

Indiana State Police sent out a message noting that those unable to reach family members believed to be in Boston for the marathon or other reasons may contact Boston officials at 617-635-4500. Only those unable to contact family are asked to use the number.

A Chicago Police spokesman and the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued statements regarding what the two agencies are doing.

The Police Department “and other first responders, like first responders in other major cities, are monitoring events closely and communicating with law enforcement officials as a precautionary measure,” said Police spokesman Adam Collins, in an emailed statement. “At this time, we are not aware of any threats facing Chicago.”

“We are closely monitoring events as they unfold in Boston and the City of Chicago’s public safety departments are actively communicating with our law enforcement partners both locally and throughout the country,” Melissa Stratton, spokeswoman for the OEMC, said in her statement. “At this time, we are not aware of any additional threats.”


-Chicago Tribune reporting

The explosion at the Boston Marathon happened just before 2 p.m. Chicago time.

Many Chicago runners were already finished at the time and tonight and some were already returning to O’Hare by Monday night.

WGNTV’s Marcella Raymond spoke with some of them.

Chicago-area witness to marathon explosions: ‘It was really scary’

Local and state officials are taking some extra precautions in light of the twin bombings that occurred at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is asking all public safety agencies to remain vigilant, and the Illinois State Police will remain vigilant through all patrol operations. State police are asking all motorists to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

Although no connection has been made between the Boston bombing and Chicago, the Chicago Police Department is asking first responders to “use extreme caution” when dealing with suspicious packages and suspicious persons.

Additionally, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued the following statement: “We are closely monitoring events as they unfold in Boston and the City of Chicago’s public safety departments are actively communicating with our law enforcement partners both locally and throughout the country. At this time, we are not aware of any additional threats.”

In response to the bombing, Metra has also announced that it has stepped up security.

Metra said customers may see “an increased police presence” at Downtown stations and on board trains, according to an alert posted on Metra’s website.

Metra also urged customers to notify a conductor or Metra police officer if they see anything unusual or out of the ordinary, the alert said.

In response to the bombings, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel released the following statement:

“I called Mayor Thomas Menino this afternoon to convey support from the people of Chicago. During this time of tragedy and uncertainty, the people of Boston are in our thoughts and prayers. The running of the Boston Marathon and Patriots Day are time-honored traditions. While the details of today’s tragedy are still unclear, one thing was immediately known: the patriotism and professionalism of public servants and first responders. Our hearts go out the first responders, runners, volunteers and spectators in Boston today.”

The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.