|By Donna Goodison, Boston
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 16, 2013--The Charlesmark Hotel at 655 Boylston St. was hosting a Boston Marathon party for 100 people approximately 35 feet from where the initial bomb detonated yesterday.
Everyone at the party was accounted for and uninjured, but the aftermath of the blast was horrific, according to hotel operating partner Mark Hagopian.
"I saw it, I felt it," Hagopian, who was on the hotel's patio at the time, said of the initial explosion. "A giant breeze came from the blast -- forced air -- and it blew tables and things off. Things like glasses were smashing. There was like 30 people on the patio, it was full. Everyone just looked at each other. We knew it was an explosion, but we didn't know if a generator blew up, or (if it was) a gas explosion. But 10 seconds later, the second bomb went off, and people started crying. We all knew that it was terrorists."
After the second explosion, Hagopian said he started to yell to his guests, "get down, get down, get down, but nobody really did that."
"They all just started to pile into the hotel towards the emergency exit," Hagopian said. "My managers were alert and aware, and they made everybody calm down and file out the back. That didn't take long, only a minute or two to get everybody out."
Another spectator rushed into the hotel from the street immediately after the blast, put his 4-year-old son on the counter and said, "Watch my boy, watch my boy," before running back outside to help his injured parents.
Hagopian and his two managers headed back outside to Boylston Street.
"Right away, there was bodies everywhere -- seven, eight or nine people just lying there with their limbs torn off," he said. "There was a lot of confusion. People were tending to other people right away. They were taking off their shirts and using them as tourniquets. I saw one guy with both legs gone, another guy with one leg gone. One guy got blown basically onto our patio, and his whole pants blew off. He was naked from the waist down."
With about three onlookers helping each victim, Hagopian started recording the graphic scene.
"I am ashamed of it, but I had a camera, and I took a video," he said. A policeman then approached him and his managers and told them to evacuate the area, which they did after confirming the entire hotel was empty.
The hotel's 40 rooms were sold out, to runners and their families, all of whom were displaced as the hotel remains closed to business on police orders. Without access to its phones -- the hotel has no voicemail system since it's normally open 24 hours -- employees have been communicating with some guests by email.
"We don't know when they can get back in," Hagopian said. "It could be more than 24 hours. The only source of information we have is from police that are walking on the streets."
Ten parties have been relocated to the Charlesmark's sister property, the 116-room Harborside Inn at 185 State St., near the waterfront. Four of the Charlesmark's employees who lived in the Back Bay and were displaced by the bombings, also have taken rooms at the Harborside.
"We actually did go back (to the Charlesmark) at night," Hagopian said, noting guests' passports and belongings all were left behind. "It's difficult for everybody right now, but people who are contacting us are positive. Nobody seems angry."
In the short term, Hagopian knows that he'll lose revenue, and he doesn't think that he has terrorism insurance.
"But in the long term, I don't believe that people will be afraid to come to Boston," he said. "I think they will understand that this can happen anywhere, anytime, and they'll be smart and not live in fear."
Hagopian, who lives at 651 Boylston St. and also is staying at the Harborside Inn now, said he plans to carry on with his normal routine, so that whomever is responsible for the bombings doesn't "achieve their objectives, which is to terrorize us."
"I'm not going to let that happen," he said.
Patrick B. Moscaritolo, CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he has not received reports of hotel reservation cancellations, but the Mandarin Oriental and the Lenox Hotel, both of which were close to Monday's blasts, also remained closed today.
National Park Service walking tours, the U.S.S. Constitution and the New England Aquarium also are closed, Moscaritolo said.
But Freedom Trail tours and the shops at the Prudential and along Newbury Street are open, the Museum and Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art offered free admission today, and 2,200 delegates from the Ambulatory Surgery Association are still due to start their three-day convention tomorrow at the Hynes Convention Center, he said.
"There is clearly a sense of trying to get back to normal," Moscaritolo said. "Twenty-four hours ago was just so horrific. We were filled with anger and shock. But it seems the city really has come together."
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