Former area residents spend day on edge in Boston
As a manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded in and around her adopted city Friday, 2006 Marietta High School grad Kayleigh Durm had nothing to compare it to – in real life.
“Stuff you see in movies is happening 20 minutes away from where you live, and I am terrified,” said Durm, 24, Friday afternoon as the search continued.
The explosions that killed three people and injured more than 150 others at the finish line of the famous race Monday and the aftermath captured the nation’s attention for much of the week. On Friday morning, many Americans awoke to the news that two suspects of whom video had been released the day before had been identified and one of them killed in a clash with police.
But Durm had been riveted all night long. She learned about the fatal shooting of an MIT police officer just before she planned to go to bed and followed the events into the morning hours. She slept fitfully a few hours Friday morning
“I kept jolting awake. I was so on edge (because) I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
Durm, a high school crew coach, spent the day in her Boston apartment, about 20 minutes from Watertown, where authorities were conducting a search for 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The adult crew team she’s on was scheduled to practice at 5 a.m., just across the river from Watertown, but that session was canceled. Her boyfriend went to work, but at a different site than his downtown Boston office.
“I’ve just been sitting on my couch, glued to my laptop,” Durm said. “I haven’t done anything else.”
Despite the conditions, Durm emphasized the confidence she had in the law enforcement personnel and other first responders handling matters.
“Even though this is such an unsafe situation, I don’t think I’ve ever felt safer,” she said.
Adams Township native Thomas Simers, lives in Quincy, about five miles from Watertown and outside the area where people were asked to shelter in place. However, he did stay home Friday because Boston’s Wheelock College, where he works, was on lockdown, and he kept in touch with friends who were in the affected areas.
“My friends who are actually in Watertown are all over Twitter,” said Simers, 31. “They were feeling more bored than scared most of the time.”
When the shelter-in-place order was briefly lifted Friday evening, Simers and his fiance drove into Boston to pick up a friend who’d spent the day in a dorm room at Andover Newton Theological School, where she is a graduate student.
Until he awoke Friday morning, Simers didn’t know about the overnight events – including the deaths of the MIT officer and the other bombing suspect, Tsarnaev’s brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan.
“There’s nothing worse than the loss of life,” Simers said. “Knowing that additional life has been lost … it’s just terrible that the violence keeps building. Because we can’t heal until the violence stops.”
Friday’s events were also being monitored back in Washington County, including by Durm’s family.
“We’ve been watching it pretty closely ever since she sent the first text to us 11 minutes after the first bomb blast,” said her father, Tony Durm, 52, of Marietta.
As video and more information about the suspects was released Thursday, Tony Durm said he determined his daughter, who had been watching the marathon near the finish line, left the area of the first explosion around the time the men walked into the area.
“It was that close,” he said. “It was pretty frightening, actually. And I’m not one that gets worked up or frightened easily.”
Her proximity to the blast has also haunted Kayleigh Durm.
“It really made my stomach drop, thinking if I had stayed even 15 more minutes, where would I be?” she said.
Even so, Durm said calm returned to her – and a lot of the city – the day after the bombings as people tried to get back to their normal routines.
Beverly resident Marsha Quimby, 61, was in Boston Monday, in between and across the street from the two explosions as she waited for husband Roger to complete the marathon. That made Friday’s events “a little more personal.”
When she saw what was happening, she felt “just a little bit of disbelief … to think that a 19-year-old and a 26-year-old has caused all this, and the gunfight,” Quimby said.
Marietta College senior Krissy Rowe, of Toledo, also had a personal connection to the week’s events. Her brother Kelley, 25, works in downtown Boston and was having lunch in a bar Monday across the street from the first explosion.
“He said it’s a completely different kind of scare that he’s never had before,” Rowe said. “Just ’cause it’s my brother made it a lot more real for me.”
Rowe received text messages from her brother on Friday, and said things didn’t “feel as out of control for me as before.”