One of De Vere Karlson’s passions is running marathons.
On Monday, Karlson, 55, was about three-tenths of a mile from the second bomb site at the Boston Marathon. She was not injured.
Two bombs exploded near the finish line killing at least three people, including 8-year-old Martin Richard and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, and injuring more than 170 according to media reports. As of press time, authorities have not discovered the individual or individuals responsible. The FBI is leading the investigation.
“I just passed the 26-mile marker and saw the smoke,” Karlson said.
Another Fallon runner, Kari Lister, was also registered to run the race. Lister, however, did not attend the marathon, according to her mother-in-law, Gwen Lister.
Kari Lister recently had a baby and although she wanted to run and paid her registration fees, Lister opted not to attend, she said.
Karlson, meanwhile, spoke to the LVN by phone from Logan International Airport on Tuesday and said the experience was shocking. In addition, her flight to Reno was cancelled and Karlson said she hopes to find a flight today.
Karlson, who is Churchill County’s chief juvenile probation officer, said she had just turned on to Boylston Street when she heard the explosion. At first, Karlson said she thought it was thunder, but then saw the smoke rising.
Seconds later, race organizers, police and emergency crews pulled the runners off the course.
“They pulled all the runners off the route,” Karlson said. “Police and ambulances immediately responded. There was a flood of people coming toward us and we were told to get off the street.”
Karlson then went to her hotel, which was about two blocks from the finish line. Once in the hotel, Karlson called her parents to tell them she was OK. Moments later, Karlson and the rest of the guests, employees and other individuals at the hotel were evacuated because the building was in the blast zone.
“I waited for about three or four hours for them (authorities) to clear it,” she said. “At that point in time (after being cleared), they asked us to stay in the hotel.”
Karlson, meanwhile, said she had not slept in 24 hours and did not know when she would get some sleep. Due to her cancelled flight, Karlson said she would spend the night in the airport.
“I’m still kind of in shock and now I’m dealing with the fact I can’t get home,” she added. “American Airlines, their system was down worldwide and they cancelled all their flights.”
Karlson, who spent eight years in the Army and left as a captain, witnessed several events in the Army that raised her adrenaline levels, but the bombings in Boston are unique.
“This one, I really didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “I couldn’t talk to or text friends and family. My concern was people back home being concerned about me.”
As for the carnage near the finish line, Karlson said she did witness the bloody and gruesome scene.
“I thought it was thunder … I saw the smoke up ahead,” she said. “I don’t even know who pulled me off the course. I saw law enforcement and ambulances speeding down the street toward the bomb site. A few minutes later, a rush of people were coming toward me and people yelling ‘Get out of here, get out of here.’”
The atmosphere around Boston on Tuesday was subdued, Karlson said. A veteran of the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Boston Marathons, Karlson said the feeling was somber.
In the past, runners would show off their medals and participant shirts, but Tuesday saw a city, state and country in mourning.
“It’s kind of a thing where you don’t want to do that,” Karlson said about wearing the marathon swag. “You feel bad. It’s very subdued … and tragic.”
As for working through what she witnessed, Karlson said, “I still haven’t figured that out yet.”
According to the Boston Marathon’s website, 85 runners from Nevada registered. The Associated Press reported the marathon registered at least 23,000 runners and is the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon.
Last year, Karlson finished the race in 4 hours, 29 minutes, 17 seconds and placed 306th in the women’s 50-54 age group.
South Lake Tahoe resident Les Wright, organizer of the Lake Tahoe Marathon, and his wife were standing yards from the finish line waiting for their friend Kristin Blocher to complete the marathon when the two bombs went off.
Wright said he didn’t know what happened to another South Lake Tahoe runner, Shandi Ashmore, but that he thinks she would have finished the marathon before the bombs went off.
“We felt the concussions, saw the smoke. It rocks your body. The first thing I thought was, ‘What are they doing shooting off cannons?” Wright said Monday.
Blocher, a South Tahoe High School alumnus, was about 100 yards from the finish line when the first bomb detonated. Blocher said she immediately veered to the right and away from the explosions.
“I was in between the bombs. I saw the first one go off and I thought it was a poorly-placed celebratory cannon blast... I was very lucky. People were screaming and crying. They were very scared,” Blocher said.