LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southland runners and spectators who survived the Boston Marathon bombings returned home Tuesday with stories of near-misses and heroism.

Three people were killed and more than 170 injured after two devices went off at the marathon’s finish line around 2:50 p.m. EST Monday.

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Phil Kent of Chatsworth, who has participated in the annual marathon three times so far, said he automatically knew a bomb had been detonated when he heard the ear-rattling sound.

“I could feel the concussion, though, in my ears and my lungs. It was very stunning. I knew it was a bomb right away. No questions about it,” he said.

Kent, whose photo was on the front page of Tuesday’s Boston Globe, said he took a picture of himself and two friends at mile 25—about 10 minutes before the blasts.

He believes the time he spent taking photos saved his life, but it didn’t save him from witnessing the chaos.

“We saw pieces of building falling off on spectators. Large pieces of rock or cement. It was very traumatic,” he said.

Jaye Putman, who lives in Trabuco Canyon, said she was in the stands watching her husband in the race when the explosions occurred.

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“I was just standing in the bleachers.  My husband had just passed through.  Just straight across from me the first blast went.  A couple seconds later… the second blast.  It was horrible.  We had kids all around us that were screaming.  And just tried to get out of the bleachers,” she said.

Putman said after the initial shock, people in the spectator stand pulled together and helped each other out.

“People were actually very orderly.  It was amazing because people, we tried to get all the kids down.  People took their time so that people wouldn’t fall coming down the bleachers.  As many people as were coming out, trying to get out of the way, people were going right in to help,” she said.

Putman said she was finally reunited with her husband 30 minutes after the tragedy.

Dexter Emoto, a registered nurse at Loma Linda University Medical Center, was at the finish line taking pictures of his running club when the bombs exploded.

He said the sounds of sirens and screams are still fresh in his mind.

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“It’s something I will never forget. The sound of the explosion and again, watching them bring the victims and casualties,” Emoto said.