Timing keeps former resident safe in Boston

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When Chris (Fix) and Chelsea Schull returned to their hotel Monday, April 15, after standing for hours near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, they had no idea that their decision to leave the race put 20 minutes between them and mayhem and destruction.

“We were standing right across the street from where the second bomb went off,” said Chris Schull, former Mobridge resident who now lives in Mankato, Minn. “We had been there for about five hours and my daughter was ready to go. The sequence of events worked out in our favor.”

They were a part of group of people from Mankato who made the trip to the East Coast for the annual marathon. There were five runners from Mankato (coached by Schull) who were taking part in the race, including her boyfriend Clint Counsellor. The last of the Mankato runners crossed the finish line at 3:38 p.m. The first bomb exploded near the finish line at 4:09 p.m. EDT. Two bombs, about 50 to 100 yards apart, exploded on a stretch of the marathon course lined with spectators in the final yards of a 26-mile, 385-yard race.

Two blocks away, the Mankato runners heard the explosions, but at first did not realize what had happened.

“Clint and his friends (who were a couple of blocks away from the race course) heard the explosions, but they didn’t know what it was,” said Schull. “We heard them in the hotel, but in a city it could have been some kind of an accident like a construction crane falling or something. We just didn’t realize what it was.”

The wife of one of the runners, a doctor who had finished the race and was in the hotel, called Schull and told her to turn on the television. The doctor had grabbed his race and medical ID badges and headed back to the scene to lend a helping hand.

As they watched the events unfold on television, the realization of what had happened and how close they had come to being in the middle of it, hit the group.

As the chaos unfolded at Copley Square, Schull said her “Mamma Bear” instincts kicked in and her first priority became protecting her daughter from any harm. Soon law enforcement blocked off the hotels, and shut down the city. They cut off cell phone service to ensure if there were more bombs, they could not be detonated through a cell phone.

“My son Dustin was home and couldn’t reach his family,” said Schull. “By the time he got through, he was panic-stricken.”

While waiting through the lock down, Schull and her daughter had a discussion about the events. As they watched some people turning and running towards the bombsite to help others, they determined her 18-year-old daughter would have been at Schull’s side, trying to help those injured, if they had still been on the scene.

“I am the kind of person that would have run towards the scene to help in any way that I can,” said Schull. “She would have run towards it to help.”

Chelsea is going to school to become a nurse. Schull said her daughter has spunk and determination inherited from her grandmother, Chris’ mom, Audrey Fix, who raised her three daughters in Mobridge. Chris is the youngest of the three and the sister of Cindi Volk of Mobridge.

Schull said when Americans attend events like the marathon or ball games, where there is a concentration of people in an open event, fearing something like a bombing isn’t in the forefront of most people’s mind.

“Why pick the finish line of the Boston Marathon? That is just crazy. We live in a free country and unfortunately, along with that comes something like this,” she said. “But I know we as Americans run toward the situation. We will not let this have an impact on the way we live our lives.”

When the lockdown was lifted, the Chris and Clint decided to take a run through the streets of Boston. It was something she said they needed to do. They ran as close as they could to the bombsite and saw other runners doing the same.

“I expect to see a bigger crowd at the marathon next year,” she said. “We qualified and will be back to run next year.”

– Katie Zerr –

 

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