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Dentists recount Boston bombing experiences

April 29, 2013

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Dr. Sheehan

Dr. Reichwage
Boston—Dentists who had connections to the Boston Marathon on April 15 recounted being there or having their practices shut down during the ensuing bombing investigation that captured international attention. Here are some of their stories:

'It's a miracle they were not physically hurt'

Dr. Siobhan Sheehan, an orthodontist with a practice in Duxbury, Mass., had nearly finished the race when the first bomb detonated. She told the Massachusetts Dental Society about her experience in an April 17 email:

“I was running my 10th Boston Marathon as a member of Team Eye and Ear in memory of one of my sisters,” she wrote. “I was feeling strong and sprinting towards the finish line when I heard and saw both bombs. I stopped in my tracks.”

Dr. Sheehan's sister, brother-in-law and their children and Dr. Sheehan's 5-year-old son were at the finish line. They had planned to surprise her with their presence. She wouldn't know they were there until later when she finally was able to make phone contact with her mother and learned they had come to the marathon and were safe.

“They were right next to the second bomb and literally hit the ground for cover. They saw severely wounded people. It's a miracle they were not physically hurt,” Dr. Sheehan wrote.

By phone later to the ADA News, Dr. Sheehan talked more about the day of terror and how it affected her family. “The poor little boy that was killed, he was standing almost in front of them,” she said. “They didn't see it because my brother-in-law shoved them to the ground. My sister is pregnant. He pushed her down on top of the kids. He jumped on them. Another stranger jumped on them and said, 'Don't move.' After a while, everyone got up and just ran.”

Though still shaken by the violence and the close call, Dr. Sheehan also recalled the bright side of the tragedy.

“The one thing I did see from it is that there are so many good people in this world,” she said. “People gave the shirts off their backs. It was amazing, the kindness of strangers. You saw the epitome of evil and you saw the epitome of what is good in this world. I saw both sides that day.”

'Next year in Boston, it could be one of the biggest [races] ever'

This year marked the 26th time that Dr. David Reichwage, a general dentist in Fort Wayne, Ind., participated in the Boston Marathon.

“It doesn't matter if it's No. 1 or 26, I tell you, you feel the exhilaration,” Dr. Reichwage said by phone April 18. “You feel the excitement—that sense of accomplishment in just participating. The other thing is, every year, it's different.”

Ordinarily, the differences have been contained to fluctuations in the weather, logistics and other innocuous elements, he said, not a deadly terrorist act.

He was nearly finished with the race, with under two miles to go, when the first bomb detonated. “That overshadowed everything,” he said. “All the happiness, the joyful exhilaration, the thrill of finishing and celebrating; all of that was pushed aside. Despite that horrific scene, the spirit of the people of Boston came through. I mean, it was incredible. People jumped in; they jumped in unselfishly into action to help the ones that were injured, to help law enforcement and any first responders. That was fantastic to see.”

Dr. Reichwage said the terrorism will not dissuade him from participating in a 27th Boston Marathon.

“Absolutely not,” Dr. Reichwage said. “I'll go to any of them, any time. I'll give it my best shot like I've always done it. I know that next year in Boston, it could be one of the biggest Bostons ever. The people in Boston aren't going to put up with this kind of thing. They're going to turn out; they're not going to be afraid of it. They're not going to be intimidated by it. They're going to go for it.”

Other dentists' accounts of the Boston Marathon bombings are shared on