MARATHON BOMBS: Iowans Share Stories of Horror

boston marathon overhead

More than 150 Iowans registered for the Boston Marathon according to the race’s website.

Among them, Tom Mertz of Des Moines was in his hotel room, just a block from the explosion at the time of the blast. He watched the tragedy unfold from his window.

“There was one explosion just before finish line.  When it went off, I jumped up.  I could see a lot of white smoke and people were scattering and maybe 15 or 20 seconds later there was another explosion a little farther up… Away from the finish line,” he said.

Mertz says the explosions shattered windows,toppled barricades along the course and left pools of blood on the street.

Some hotels in the area are believed to be on lockdown, when we talked with Mertz he was still waiting for instructions from his hotel.

His wife is in Boston with him, he says they’re now trying to figure out if they should stay in the area. “I think we`re going to try to get some answers on the status of the hotel… Get downstairs and see what`s happening.  We weren`t scheduled to leave Boston until Thursday.  We`re not sure if that will change now or not.”

Read the full story on the marathon explosions here.

Olivia Knipp, of Windsor Heights, had never run the Boston Marathon before. She never imagined she could run it so fast. Knipp now knows her personal milestone will hold far less importance because of the tragedy surrounding her day.

Knipp was still reveling in her finishing time of 3 hours and 23 minutes as she walked in downtown Boston Monday afternoon with her husband, Jason, a Grand View University assistant wrestling coach. “I didn’t even know I could run that fast,” she said.

They had planned to go to a post-race gathering to celebrate near the finish line of the race. But they decided they would rather avoid the crowd and go to a less-crowded bar three blocks away. “We could have been in the middle of it,” Knipp said.

At first she didn’t know what “it” was. She thought she heard something that sounded like two explosions. But since she was in colonial Boston, her first thought wasn’t of danger, it was of some kind of celebration of the historic city. “Oh, probably just a re-enactment,” Knipp said she figured. She continued, “My husband and my mom were like something’s wrong. I turn around and there was smoke. We were like, what?!”

“Ambulances started coming. Police cars came rushing in,” Knipp said. Her husband checked his phone. They both then looked on in horror at the early accounts on Twitter of people. “You could see blood on the ground. People missing limbs,” Knipp said.

Knipp said authorities told them to go to their hotel rooms and stay there. “It’s sad,” Knipp said, “It takes away all the joy away from what’s supposed to be a happy day. It just breaks your heart.”

Kimberly Baeth, of Urbandale, posted this on Facebook to reassure worried family and friends about her after she completed the marathon:

“Thank you so much, everyone for calls, texts, emails, thank God above, Kev and I, fine, very scary here, very shaken up, I heard it go off and was right .2 from the finish line, Kev was waiting for me, near the bomb. Blood and smoke, fire everywhere. Unbelievable.”

Dowling Catholic Assistant Track Coach, Kelly Parriott says running the Boston Marathon had always been a dream.

The race went well for her, but just four minutes after she crossed the finish line, “You could feel the explosion and I could see it…is that a cannon?” she told Channel 13.

Parriott says the scene remained eerily ambivalent after that. She eventually found her father and the others she had flown out with, “There are actually five of us that are here that all ran at Drake University at some point of time. We`re all safe and okay.”

They are supposed to leave Boston Tuesday morning, but flights will likely be delayed.

The Iowa State Running Club President Chris Robertson says all 10 members of the club running in Boston checked in via social media and are well.
Boston authorities have set up a phone line for anyone trying to find family in the area.

If you’re seeking information about a loved one, call 617-635-4500.

1st District Congressman Bruce Braley sent out a statement:

“I’m shocked and appalled at what transpired today at the Boston Marathon. My thoughts and prayers go out to the runners, volunteers, and spectators involved in this tragic event.”

2nd District Congressman Dave Loebsack sent out a statement:

“The events that happened today in Boston are appalling. My thoughts and prayers are with all those injured and the families and loved ones of those who were lost.  I would like to thank the first responders, members of the National Guard, and all those who responded and provided assistance to those who needed it.  As a nation, we stand with the people of Boston.”

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