Revere Police officers – and brothers – Mike Mason and Joe Covino have run dozens of marathons between them, but this year, finishing the marathon wasn’t enough.
Not only did the two officers run the Boston Marathon last Monday, but also they immediately went into emergency management mode – treating injured people and controlling the crowd just as they came down the home stretch.
Speaking for his brother, Officer Covino told the Journal on Monday night that Mason, 44, can be seen crossing the finish line just as the first bomb exploded.
Covino said both are approaching what they did very humbly, noting that “100 people did 100 greater things” on that day.
While that might be true, Covino also said that Mason showed tremendous resilience throughout that afternoon and the rest of the week.
“He basically finished the race right as the bomb was going off,” said Covino. “He immediately went over and identified himself as an explosives ordinance detection specialist and began grabbing wheelchairs to help people, triaging people who were hurt and retrieving clothes from the store that blew up to make bandages. He was helping get people over to the medical tent.”
Once he was done with the initial stages of helping out, Mason proceeded to retrieve his car in South Boston. However, he didn’t go home to rest; he went home to get his police dog partner in order to come back to Boston and help check buildings in the Back Bay for additional bombs.
“Without showering or anything, he went home and put on his uniform and grabbed his dog, Walsh, and went back to Boston to clear buildings,” said Covino, 42. “Then you see him later in Revere clearing the building on the Beach that night. He’s been in Boston with Walsh every day for the last week, at least 16 or 18 hours a day…As his little brother, I’ll say his efforts were superhuman.”
Said Chief Joe Cafarelli, “When this happened I was in touch with Boston Police and they said they needed trained dogs and handlers. Mike does that for us. He basically ran a marathon in under four hours and then turned around and worked non-stop for a week. His efforts have been unbelievable.”
The same kudos came from Mayor Dan Rizzo, who said both Covino and Mason had performed heroic deeds on the race day, and he hoped to recognize them.
For his part, Mason said he didn’t want to talk about it, citing that he considers his work very private.
“His comment is that there is a team of SEALs who took down Osama Bin Laden,” said Covino. “He says that when they jump up and start talking about what they did, then he’ll talk about what he did at the Marathon.”
Covino explained that his experience was different than his brother’s, as he was slightly behind his brother.
As he rounded the corner onto Boylston Street, he saw the first bomb detonate and saw the crowd moving around up ahead. As he took in that confusing scene, the second bomb detonated about 100 feet away from him.
“I saw all this smoke from near the finish line and everyone was moving quickly to the left,” he said. “At the same time I saw all the police officers listening to their radios and moving to the right. It was like a dance. I saw the cloud of smoke and was wondering what that was. Then I saw the grandstand empty out. Then the second bomb went off near me. As soon as it happened, it was like a gate of yellow vests came across the street and closed it all off. All the runners were stopped and in dead shock.”
Covino helped to get people over the barricade, tend to injured victims and administer medical aid.
“I administered aid appropriate with my experience and training,” said Covino, a bit bashful. “There were hurt people, and I helped them.”
Following that, Covino said he helped move runners to safety in the Mass Ave/Comm Ave area.
“The fans and spectators were tremendous,” he said. “They were giving runners their cell phones to call family. I used someone’s phone to call my wife. The people who live on Comm Ave were opening their doors and letting people come inside and use the bathroom or rest. There was an upscale restaurant, Deuxave, on the corner that was bringing out water. When they ran out of bottles, the wait staff was bringing out pitchers of water. No one was running away from this. They were running to help in so many ways.”
Once the runners had been loaded on a bus, Covino began to think about where his wife, Elaine (the daughter of the late State Sen. Fran Doris), might be.
She had come alone, and Covino had spoken with her, but he didn’t know where she was.
“That was just something I couldn’t think about when I was helping,” he said. “You learn to own what you can’t take care of. You can’t focus on what you cannot do. It will take care of itself. I could only concentrate on the people in front of me.”
As it turns out, Covino’s wife had stopped at the State House to remember old memories about her late father. Because of that, she didn’t get her usual spot, which was right at the finish line. She had met up with a fellow spectator, and after the blast, they had escaped.
“As she took a picture of Mike (Mason) crossing the finish line, the bomb went off about 50 yards away,” Covino said. “Then the second one went off. She grabbed the girl she was watching with by the hand and ran down into a restaurant and out into a back alley. She stopped and thought about what I would have told her to do, and then she did it.”
Eventually, Covino and his wife were able to meet up and travel home to safety.
“It was very emotional when we reconnected after all that happened,” said Covino.
He said he was floored by the cooperation of local law enforcement, but beyond that, he was encouraged by the way the entire Boston area came together during that time of tragedy.
“I hope people don’t’ live forever with the bombing and it’s tragedy, but with the recovery,” he said. “There’s a poster out there now that says when Gotham is in trouble, they call Batman; but when Boston is in trouble, people call the person next to them. That is so unbelievably true. I didn’t see anyone pushing anyone out of the way or fleeing. You only saw hands reaching out to help and support.”
For Covino, this was his 10th Boston Marathon in a row, and it was Mason’s 18th in a row. Both run with the Boston Police Runner’s Club.