Local runners confirmed safe in Boston
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - W.K. Munsey's cellphone was buzzing nonstop Monday afternoon.
Calls and texts were pouring in concerning runners from Charleston's Tallman Track Club who were participating in the Boston Marathon.
The calls came after a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line. Three people were confirmed dead and at least 140 were injured.
Munsey was trying to track down the West Virginia runners to make sure all were OK. The group had several runners in the race. Early on, all but one were accounted for.
Participants from the Charleston club included Tim Deer, Chris Kim, Rob Dunderville and Dave McCollum, all of Charleston, and Brad Deel of Teays Valley, Adam Coon of Sherman and Emily Chaney of Huntington.
In the minutes immediately following the explosion, Munsey had reassured himself of the safety of all except for Rich Boehm of Teays Valley.
Boehm, who was running the marathon for the first time, couldn't be located in the hour immediately following the race. He had not finished when the two bombs went off near Boylston Street shortly before 3 p.m.
A little more than an hour after the bombs went off, family members confirmed that Boehm and his wife, Kara, were safe.
Kara Boehm's father, Gary Midkiff of Charleston, was getting worried after hearing of the bombs and not being able to get in touch with his daughter or son-in-law.
"I was really getting worried," Midkiff said. "I couldn't get through. They said on the news they had cell service shut down because they were afraid the signals would set off another bomb."
He said his daughter called, saying both she and her husband were OK. Rich had not yet crossed the finish line when the bombs went off and Kara, who was watching, was standing in the area between where the bombs went off.
Midkiff said Kara told him she started running after the bombs went off but that a man grabbed her and told her to stay put, in case there were more bombs.
"It took forever for them to find each other," Midkiff said. "There was no way for them to communicate."
They did eventually find each other. Rich posted on his Facebook page that they were "safe, we are praying for those that are not."
"Rich Boehm has been confirmed safe, the last one from our group . . . Prayers go out from the #TTC to the injured. . ." the Tallman Track Club posted on its Twitter account.
Munsey was keeping up with the race via Twitter and the Boston Marathon race tracker. He was worried about those who were running and those who were watching.
"I was just hoping it wasn't terroristic," he said. "We're just praying right now. Praying for everyone involved."
The Boston Athletic Association, the organization behind the Boston Marathon, listed 46 West Virginians as participants in the race.
Joe DeLong, executive director of the West Virginia Regional Jail Authority, had been keeping up with his mother's progress in the marathon all day via updates from his brother, Bob Jr., and a race tracker website.
He had been teasing his brother earlier in the day because Teresa, their mother, was running faster than they expected. The 65-year-old, who was the oldest female racer from West Virginia, was doing better than a 9-minute-mile in the beginning of the run and was in the 10-minute mile range as she neared the finish line.
She'd trained for two years for Monday's race, battling through knee surgery and problems with her sciatic nerve. DeLong said she had to qualify for the Boston race and ran in the Columbus Marathon last year to do so.
"My brother has been doing the group text with myself and my wife all day long, keeping us updated," DeLong said. "We were staying in pretty constant contact.
"Then he sent a text, and all it said was 'bomb.' "
He knew his mother was close to the finish line, but he didn't know how close. He confirmed that his brother, who was in the spectator area with their father, Bob, and their aunt, Cheryl Thrift, Teresa's sister, all were OK.
They all were very close to where the explosions occurred, he said.
"Miraculously, everybody is OK," he said.
A half-hour later, his mother's cellphone number came up on his phone. She was a half-mile from the finish line when the bombs went off, DeLong said.
Teresa, who lives in New Cumberland, Hancock County, was shaken up but frantic because she couldn't get in touch with their group at the finish line.
DeLong said his emotions ranged from relief at hearing his mother's voice on the line to anger.
"She had run such a great race," he said. "You go from fear, worrying about your family then, for me, to anger because she was deprived of finishing.
"I'm very angry that that experience, that once-in-a-lifetime experience, of crossing the finish line was robbed from her. But we're definitely blessed that everybody is OK."
Cody Dean, 21, originally from Beckley, is attending school in Boston and was watching the race from the sidelines.
"I had some friends running in it, and they had a later starting time, so I was walking up and down the pathway people-watching and seeing the different parts of the racetrack," Dean said.
He entered a lunch spot.
"When I came back out, I saw tons of people running everywhere. I saw 200 to 300 people in cop cars within 15 minutes pass by. Everyone was running toward one direction. Folks directing traffic had no idea what was going on. We were told to get near the wall."
Dean was far enough away that he neither saw nor heard the explosions.
"It was so packed that I couldn't move around. Everyone was coming my way all of a sudden," Dean said. "Folks were figuring it out slowly. They were going over on the sidewalks and the bank away from the main roadway.
"People were figuring out something was wrong as they approached the finish line. Nobody could go anywhere - we were standing there against the wall."
He remained for about 45 minutes.
"Everyone was trying to call. Most people on the sidelines had people running in the race. Some folks were crying - concerned or didn't know what was going on. Maybe couldn't get a hold of a loved one."
Ricky Campbell of Nitro ran in last year's marathon but bowed out of this year's event. He gave his bib to a friend so that he could experience the race. His friend is OK, he said.
Campbell said his family was in the area where the blasts occurred last year when he participated. He called Monday's bombing a "very sad day for the running community."
"I just can't believe this happened," he said. "I feel awful to the individuals who were unable to finish. . . to train for months to complete the Boston Marathon. . . and have it taken away.
"I can't begin to express how much that would destroy me. Thoughts and prayers to all the runners."
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said his office was monitoring information through the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center and said no specific threats to the state had been identified as of Monday afternoon.