Albany Devils winger Joe Whitney's reaction to Boston bombings
Albany Devils left wing Joe Whitney peeled himself away from the television coverage of Monday’s terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon to come to work Tuesday morning.
“I watched TV all night and all day, just to see if they get any new news on who it was or what it was,” he said.
“I just want to know who did it.”
The Reading native and Boston College product eventually found out his family and friends were safe and sound. He described a few tense moments, though, after he heard the news while golfing with a teammate.
“Me and Matt Anderson were playing nine holes of golf at Capital Hills, then I got a text message from my fiancé,” Whitney said. “I was tracking my best friend, who was running the marathon to raise money for Mass General. She was sending me text messages of where he was, because you can track the runners. He finished in 4:09 or something. He finished at 2:50, which is right when it happened, so I was a little worried and she was worried.
“His mother was down there trying to find him. She finally found him, and he sent me a video five minutes later and said, ‘I’m in the bottom-right-hand corner in the yellow pinney.’ I watched the video, and he’s running, fist-pumping because he finished the marathon, and about three seconds later, the explosion goes off. So that kind of hit home. That was tough.
“I just wanted to get my fiancé out of there, too. At that point, you don’t know, is there more? Are more going to go off? So I was a little worried. I wanted her to get home safe. Fortunately, nothing else happened.”
That fist-pumping yellow pinney is seen crossing the finish line in some of the footage being aired on various news channels, as Whitney described, just seconds before the first explosion.
Whitney’s fiancé works at Government Center, near Massachusetts General Hospital and less than a mile from the finish line of the race.
His younger brother, Steven, also was in town but not near the bombs.
Steven, like Joe, played his collegiate hockey at Boston College. After his senior season ended in the first round of the NCAA tournament, he signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks, then signed an amateur tryout contract with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate — the Norfolk Admirals — to finish out this season.
He has been playing with Norfolk, but the Admirals had just finished playing in Providence, R.I., on Sunday night. While they stayed there before heading to play Syracuse later this week, Steven returned to Boston College.
“He went home to finish up some schoolwork, square away some classes,” Joe Whitney said. “He’s trying to graduate, so he’s got to go back and finish some exams.”
Recalling his own days at Boston College, Whitney said Patriot’s Day is the “best day in Boston.”
“It’s springtime, and when you’re at school, Marathon Monday is circled on the calendar. All the schools have the day off, people come out to support everyone,” he said. “We’re at the 21st mile, at the top of Heartbreak Hill, where BC is. You wouldn’t believe how many people cheer for hours. Even if you don’t know anyone, you’ll just go and be screaming. People will have writing on their arms like, ‘My name is Bob,’ and you’ll be like, ‘Go Bob!’ For hours. It’s crazy.”
That solidarity and support for one another will come in handy as the Bostonians moves forward from this attack. Whitney said he doesn’t think this will change Boston or its people, even if some uncertainty lingers over the city for the moment.
“It’s kind of weird, because you don’t know what’s next,” he said. “You don’t know if it’s a set-up for something else. But yeah, they did pick the wrong city to mess around with.”