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Atlanta woman nearly makes history as 1st little person to finish Boston Marathon

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Updated: 4/24/2013 1:35 pm
ATLANTA, Ga. -- A local woman was half a mile from making history when two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon injured more than 140 people and killed three, including an 8-year-old.

Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the marathon in a terrifying scene of shattered glass, billowing smoke, bloodstained pavement and severed limbs, authorities said.

Channel 2’s Lori Geary spoke to Jaillene Hunter Monday evening. Her sister, Juli Windsor, would have been the first little person to finish the Boston Marathon. Windsor recently moved temporarily to Boston from Marietta.

[SPECIAL COVERAGE: BOSTON MARATHON TERROR ATTACK]

Hunter, who was following the marathon from Marietta, told Geary their mother was waiting at the finish line for Windsor when the bombs went off.

“I was actually watching the live feed because I was anticipating when she was going to come in with her time and just about when she was hoping to come in with her time, I noticed,” Hunter said.

Windsor, 26, has a rare form of dwarfism, and at 3 feet 9 inches tall, she would have made history if she had crossed the finish line, but she was running just behind her pace.

“I noticed ambulances and fire trucks and the like. I got extremely concerned. It was a long afternoon until we heard she was safe and sound,” Hunter said.

Windsor was about half a mile from the finish line when the bombs went off.

“They stopped everyone and said, ‘No one can go any further. There’s been an explosion. The race is canceled,” Windsor told Geary by phone.

“My goal for finishing was 4:15. Had I made that goal, which I didn’t, I would have been there right as the explosion happened.”

Hunter said her family members were initially waiting on the side where the bombs went off, but they moved when they got word that Windsor would be coming in on the other side.

Their mother, Anita Erickson, suffered a minor shoulder injury as people were pushed around after the explosion. She is a school nurse at Otwell Middle School in Cumming.

Hunter said she does not expect Monday’s tragedy to distract her sister from her goal of more than 10 years.

“I think she’ll be back to do it again, and I think it was a good lesson for all of us. That we’re not in control and we don’t get to number our days,” Hunter said.

Channel 2’s Tony Thomas spoke to a Cobb County man who had been at the scene just an hour before the bombs exploded.

Danny Bourgeois credits good luck that he was at both the Boston bombings and in Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 bombing, but avoided injury both times.

Bourgeois told Thomas he decided to leave for the airport early Monday afternoon, but he had been in the same spot where one of the bombs exploded in front of the Marathon Sports running store near the finish line.

He was in Boston with a business partner to promote their Louisiana Marathon, which will be held next January. He expects more runners will want to participate in marathons to take a stand and say they will not back down from a sport they love.

“I think people are going to come back stronger. I think we don’t like to give up and we don’t like to have cowards win,” Bourgeois said.

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