Spectators flee after explosions near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon on Monday. The blasts killed at least two people and injured scores more. / Kenshin Okubo, AP
Waiting near the finish line for his mom to finish her first marathon, Christopher Traynor was feet away from two blasts at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and left scores injured.
"Initially, you just heard screams," Traynor, 18, said late Monday afternoon. "You didn't really see much. It was really smoky. The smell of gunpowder was overwhelming.
"It was just like a cannon went off. My instinct at that point was just run."
It wasn't until hours later that Traynor fully grasped what had happened when he saw the coverage on television.
"At the time, I understood how close I was but we really didn't understand what was going on," he said. "If we were 10 feet to the right, I probably wouldn't be having this conversation with you."
The 18-year-old had been standing along a row of flags on Boylston Street with his father, Michael, as his mother was several miles away, still on the course on Monday afternoon. Confusion followed after the first explosion around 2:50 p.m. ET, Traynor said, and a second one followed about 10 to 15 seconds later.
Traynor said he was separated from his father as they ran away from the first blast.
The high school senior ran into a building, but left it when he realized he did not know where his father went. Back on the sidewalk, he saw abandoned bags and shoes people had lost.
"Running back, we just saw the sidewalk was streaked with blood," he said. "I saw people. I saw parts."
Traynor was reunited with his father, and the two headed toward their car. On the course, his mother, Kate, did not know what was happening.
Runners who had their cell phones started getting text messages, phone calls and checking for updates, Traynor said. Another runner loaned his mother a phone, and she texted them to meet her at her office. The family reunited soon after.
Traynor, of Shrewsbury, Mass., began tweeting soon after the explosions.
"multiple explosions oh (expletive). people are injured," he wrote.
"oh god, this is horrible," he posted shortly thereafter.
Finally, an hour later, "FOUND MY MOM!!!! FOUND HER!!! SHE'S OKAY!!!"
After viewing the news on Twitter, Traynor marveled at the response from police and medical professionals who were on hand to help tired runners. He saw a photo of a runner who had been knocked down by the blast, with two police officers helping him up and a third officer running toward the explosion with a gun drawn.
"I've never seen people jump into action that quickly," Traynor said. "They completely disregarded their own safety. It was unbelievable."
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Read the original story: Student near blasts recalls screams, 'smell of gunpowder'