By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Apr 16, 2013 at 11:37 AM Photography:

When Amy O'Neill got a text from her dear friend Deanne Wecker yesterday at 1:53 Central Time that said "Amy a bomb went off" she immediately knew something went horribly wrong at the Boston Marathon.

Wecker, a former Milwaukeean who now lives in Watertown, Mass., was at the marathon cheering on her partner, Bridget Mackey, who also once lived in Milwaukee.

"I know Deanne never uses lame metaphors for things so I started looking online for her for information. I saw the very first tweets come in and tried to give her as much info as possible before the cell towers went down," says O'Neill, a Milwaukee artist who lived in Boston for six years and moved back last year.

Wecker was three blocks away when the bombs went off. Like many, when she heard the first one, she thought it was a celebratory cannon. But she heard someone say, "That wasn't a cannon," and then, the second blast. This time, she saw what she describes as a "massive fire bomb explosion."

"There were waves of people, screaming, coming towards us. Some had looks of horror on their faces," say Wecker. "It was like being in a war."

Wecker says she started running, too, but quickly realized she had no idea where to go or which direction was safe. There was a 20-minute period during which she wandered aimlessly, terrified about what was happening, and trying to find Mackey.

Mackey was at mile 25.8 – only .4 miles away – when the bombs went off. She was told to stop running. She was eventually able to send Wecker a text, assuring her she was OK.

When Mackey finally showed up at their friend's apartment on Commonwealth Avenue – just blocks away from the finish line – she was wearing a stranger's cardigan sweater. So many runners had to stop running and did not have their warm-up gear so strangers started giving them clothing off their backs.

"This makes me love Boston," says O'Neill.

Wecker, originally from Beloit, lived in Milwaukee from 1990 to 201o. She owned multiple businesses in Brew City, including Lee's Luxury Lounge and Dee's Wine Stop. She moved to Massachusetts in 20110 to attend the New England School of Law.

Mackey is formerly from Ashland, but moved to Milwaukee to attend Marquette  University's School of Dentistry. This was her first time running the Boston Marathon.

Today, Wecker says she is still in shock and trying to process what happened. She says she is avoiding the news and gruesome, online photos.

"It's all really, really surreal," says Wecker.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.