Explosions shake students


Office of Speaker Boehner

Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke to the president around 5:30 p.m. April 15, 2013 about the tragedy in Boston.

Katelynn Mccollough

Mackenzie Petermeier’s first thought was to find her family.

Petermeier, senior in graphic design, had already finished the 12.6 miles of the Boston Marathon she signed up to run, and was on a transit headed toward the finish line to cheer on her aunt Joni Voss and cousin Jamison Voss, who were running the full marathon.

It was at this time, around 2:50 p.m., that two explosions occurred just seconds apart near the finish line of the race.

“We were on a transit and we got evacuated. People were saying there were bombs,” Petermeier said. “We just got out of there as soon as possible.”

Jamison, a senior in computer engineering, and his mother Joni were a mere half mile from the finish line when the blasts went off and were stopped from completing the race.

They soon found Petermeier and returned to the hotel.

Twelve students who were running the Boston Marathon as part of the Iowa State Running Club confirmed the afternoon of April 15, 2013 they were uninjured as well.

“People are OK for the most part, still shaken though,” said Joey Sevcik, junior in kinesiology and health, several hours after the event, on the night of April 15. 

“Nobody would ever have thought this would have happened at a marathon. We were just all so lucky not to be around the blast. Lots of scenarios could have placed one or multiple of us around.”

Ryan Schafbuch, third year veterinary medicine student and member of the Iowa State Running Club, was in the area when the explosions took place.

“We heard a loud explosion, but we didn’t see it,” Schafbuch said.

Schafbuch was there with another member of the club and the two were on the way back to the Boston Hotel Buckminster after finishing the race. Schafbuch said he and another student heard the second explosion a few moments later, then saw large clouds of smoke.

Sevcik explained the majority of the club was walking to the hotel or on the subway when the event occurred.

“We probably missed it by around 10 minutes,” Sevcik said. “It happened before we were back at our hotel. Our hotel is about .8 miles away from the blasts.”

There were 27,000 runners signed up for the Boston Marathon on April 15, with more than 150 coming from Iowa. The explosions took place about two hours after the first runners finished the marathon.

The death toll rose to three by nighttime on April 15, with more than 100 injuries. One of the deaths was confirmed to be an 8-year-old boy.

Petermeier and her family and the members of the Iowa State Running Club all spent the evening in their hotel rooms watching the news.

“We’re at the hotel, we’re trying to message everyone back that we’re OK,” Petermeier said. “We were all bawling. … We were all just so glad to be OK.”

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis stated that a third explosive device was found after the initial explosions and dismantled.

President Barack Obama said in a statement the evening of April 15, after the event, that “any responsible individuals, any responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice.”

Federal authorities have classified the bombings as a terrorist act, but it is not yet known if they are of domestic or foreign origin.

“It is just an example of something you never expect to happen when you are around. I’ll always be a little bit more cautious when in big crowds probably, especially at marathons,” Sevcik said. 

“It’s tragic because marathons never have an insecure feeling to them; they are happy community-building activities.”

The Iowa State Running Club plans to fly back to Iowa the afternoon of April 16. Petermeier’s family also hopes to return to the state by air, but are not sure if there will be flights after the April 15 events.