K-State students at marathon describe scene following bombs

By Kelly McHugh

The tragic events of Monday’s Boston Marathon hit close to home for several people with Manhattan ties, including four K-State students.

Just after 2 p.m. Central Time on Monday, two bombs exploded near the finish line, taking the lives of three people and injuring more than 130 others.

Four students — Michael Just, Paul Harris, Lyndi Stucky and Ryan Wiebe — all members of the K-State Marathon Club, finished the race before the bombs went off and were unharmed. Another student, Dana Stumpff, was there to watch her father run.

Stucky,  a junior at K-State, finished her first Boston Marathon and was met at the finish line by her parents.

“My parents were standing right where the bombs were, and if I would have run it slower, they still would have waited there for me,” Stucky said, and her voice became quiet. “I could have possibly just walked by and watched them, or could have been killed or injured myself.”

After the race, Stucky said she gathered her things and met her parents about two blocks away from the finish line.

“We started walking down that street and then the explosion went off,” Stucky said. “It just reminded me of 9/11. The buildings that were by us, I could see smoke coming off them. So I thought, ‘Maybe I’m just making it up; maybe it’s just construction.’”

Stucky said people were wondering what was going on, and though there was talk about bombs, no one knew for sure.  She said people were directed to get off the streets so emergency personnel could make their way though the crowds.

“It was shoulder to shoulder, and the crowds were just trying to get out,” Stucky said.

“Some people were crying, and some people were screaming.”

Stucky and her parents made it back to the hotel and waited for things to settle down. It was there that they were able to see on TV what had actually happened.

“Getting through the marathon, being so exhausted, then being like, ‘I am done running, I don’t have to do anything else,’” Stucky said. “And then people are like, ‘Get out.  Evacuate.’ And you can barely walk. It was just crazy.”

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Dana Stumpff, a senior at K-State, was in Boston cheering on her father, Jim, who works in Overland Park, when the bombs went off.

Dana was standing at Mile 23 to watch her dad run by on his way to the finish line, eight minutes after Stucky had finished. Dana and her family had planned to meet him back at their hotel.

But they ran into some problems on their way to the hotel, as streets were blocked off and traffic was backed up. They were three blocks from where they wanted to be, but the police turned them around.

“We were all surrounded by people with their families who had just finished the marathon when I heard sirens and saw police were directing traffic to let emergency personnel through,” Dana said in a phone interview with the Mercury on Monday night.

“But no one knew what was going on.”

It wouldn’t be until later that Dana found out the news via a text message from a friend.

“I started panicking,” Dana said. “Before responding to her, I immediately called my dad,  unsure of where he was and if he had left the finish area yet or not.”

By then, Jim had finished the race and was also on his way back to the hotel to meet up with his family.

“My daughter called me to make sure I was OK and told me she heard there was a bombing at the finish line,” Jim said. “When I got back I took my phone out of my bag and saw multiple texts from people who had heard about the explosion seeing if I was OK.”

When he got back to the hotel, Jim turned on the news and saw the footage of what had happened at the finish line he had so recently crossed.

“We had about 30 runners from our running club in Kansas City, and we were all texting one another trying to make sure everyone was OK,” he said. “It wasn’t until later in the evening that they confirmed that all were accounted for.

“I didn’t even ask my fellow runners how they did,” Hims said. “We were more concerned that they were OK, not how the race went.”

Jim is a member of the Runner’s Edge running club in Kansas City, and this was his second Boston Marathon.

He completed the race in 3 hours, 46 minutes — a time that qualifies him for next year’s race as well. And he said he intends to run in it.

“The Boston Marathon is such a world-class event with athletes from all over the world competing,” he said. “It’s something that many runners strive for. It would be a shame for this event to be negatively impacted by the events of (Monday).”

Both the Stumpffs and the Stuckys were scheduled to return to Kansas Wednesday, but with all the chaos in Boston, both families were delayed.









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