BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — By chance, Danvers High soccer coach Mike Chase and his friend, Danvers High custodian Dan Marshall, found themselves with family and friends at the epicenter of the second Boston Marathon bomb blast Monday afternoon.
It started as a glorious day with great company, Chase with his wife, Dena, and Marshall with girlfriend Lauren Gibbs of Gloucester, standing out at a high-top table with a prime viewing spot of the race in front of the Atlantic Fish Co. on Boylston Street.
But it did not end that way.
“It was a great day up until that point,” said Marshall, who ran into Chase by chance at the Beverly train station and told him where they were headed to watch the marathon. They didn’t see each other again until they met up at the restaurant.
Chase later helped an off-duty Lynn firefighter carry a severely injured young boy to an ambulance 30 yards from where the second bomb went off.
Marshall tended to 8-year-old Martin Richard, the Dorchester boy who was killed in the blast and who has become the face of the tragedy. Bill Richard, the boy’s father, is a 1988 graduate of Salem High. The boy’s mother and little sister were also injured in the bombings.
“It’s extremely sad,” said Marshall, 32, who graduated Danvers High in 1998, a year behind Chase, 34. “It’s extremely sad, but I don’t know what happened. I just sprang into action. He was the first one I saw, and I sprung to him. I wish I could’ve helped more.”
Marshall said he and Chase are not heroes. “We did what we had to do.”
Chase described the first blast as taking place about 75 yards to their left. He was on the phone with his brother trying to direct him to the restaurant. Seconds later came the second blast, a white flash, then a bang, which Chase described as a loud, high-pitched scream followed by silence. He was blown back. He said he was lucky to be standing next to a 21/2-foot-tall planter.
“That’s the only reason my legs didn’t get blown off,” Chase said.
He jumped on top of his wife and Marshall’s girlfriend to cover them while waiting for the smoke to clear. He then moved them to an alcove at the front of the restaurant. He remembers screaming into his cellphone for his brother, in town for a Bruins game, to “get out of the city!”
Inside the restaurant, he found that his sister-in-law, Taylor DeLuca of Danvers, and her boyfriend, Andrew Bartlett of Gloucester, were safe. Marshall’s sister, Jackie Marshall of Danvers, and her boyfriend, Steve Foss of Salem, along with another relative, Kellie Marshall of Danvers, were also at the restaurant and escaped unscathed.
Back outside, Chase could not find Marshall but saw off-duty Lynn firefighter Matt Patterson helping a 6-year-old boy who had his leg blown off below the knee. Patterson motioned for Chase to give him a hand. Chase took off his belt and used it as a tourniquet on the boy’s leg.
The two decided to carry the child to an ambulance about 30 yards away, with Chase applying pressure to the boy’s leg. He said the boy was awake and alert, and he held the boy’s hand. A man who Chase assumes was the boy’s father was there holding his 11-year-old son. Chase asked the father to cover the boy’s eyes. Once they got to the ambulance, Chase had the father sit the boy down on the curb, and he sat with him and tried to answer all his questions while the father went to the ambulance.
When the father came back, Chase headed back to where the second blast had occurred. That’s where he found Marshall, who had removed his shirt and was working with others on an injured boy, who Chase later found out was Martin Richard.
Chase moved some metal barricades so the injured could be brought to the ambulances and passed some backboards forward.
When it became clear there were enough “professionals” there, they moved away. They spoke with a Boston police and went to find their family and friends. Mike’s brother, Brad Chase of Danvers, and his wife, Jen Chase, a nurse, were waiting at Massachusetts General Hospital, and they jumped in a car and headed to Salem Hospital, where Chase learned he had a ruptured eardrum and a concussion. Otherwise, they were all OK.
“Just a really tough day,” Chase said, “but we will do what we do to get through it.” Chase said he hopes the little boy he attended to pulls through.
Many people have been reaching out to Chase, including his own father.
“He was shocked like everyone else, but he was very proud of me,” Chase said.
Chase, 34, almost became a police officer and had once attended the reserve police academy. His father is retired Danvers police Chief Stuart Chase, now the chief in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Chase spent six years on the reserve list in Danvers but suffered a blood clot in his lungs after knee surgery in 2004. Because he had to take a blood thinner, he was not eligible to become a police officer. In November 2006, when a Danvers ink and paint plant exploded, Chase, who lives not far from Danvers High, saw the fireball and tried to head to the scene to help.
On Monday, Marshall, who works for the town’s Department of Public Works as a custodian, had been at the barricade along the course looking for a college friend who was running the race. Marshall, who said he has run three marathons in San Diego, had wanted to run in Boston this year, but an injury sidelined him. He thought the first blast was fireworks or muskets of Revolutionary War re-enactors, and the second blacked him out momentarily. Then he sprung into the thick of things, taking off his belt to use as a tourniquet and giving his two shirts to others.
“It was so split of the moment,” said Marshall, who also suffered punctured eardrums and a concussion. “Some of the stuff I saw, you just phase it out while you are helping.”
If he can find a charity to join, he plans to run Boston next year.
“I’m hoping to,” Marshall said.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.