Summit County residents grieve with Boston
Ryan Summerlin April 16, 2013
Ashley Kujawski has been at the Boston Marathon every year for nearly a decade.
Even after she relocated to Summit County, she always returned home for Patriots Day to be a part of the event that she says has always been a positive symbol of the city. The marathon is always held on Patriots Day, which falls on third Monday in April.
“It’s just such an iconic and recognized event throughout the city,” she said.
But with plans to go back to Boston later this spring, she decided to remain in Colorado on Marathon Monday this year, when two bombings near the finish line would change the meaning of the event.
The blasts, in quick succession, tore through a high-spirited scene at the end of the marathon route just before 3 p.m. EDT Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 170 others.
Kujawski had friends who crossed the finish line moments before the explosions. Her boyfriend was among the crowd of spectators watching the race from less than a mile away.
“He just texted me, ‘something happened, there was an explosion,'” she said. “He couldn’t get through to me because all the cell service was down. … It was terrifying.”
In Summit County, a place where most people come from somewhere else, the bombings hit close to home for many, who began making calls and searching social media for news of loved ones on the East Coast.
“It’s kind of crazy how when something like that happens you almost have to do a rundown of everyone that’s important to you, where they are and what they could possibly be doing,” Kujawski said. “There are a lot of unlucky people, but I’m happy to say that those I love and are in my life are all safe.”
Former Breckenridge town councilman and local TV personality Jeffrey Bergeron also had family, a niece and nephew-in-law, at the race. They initially thought the explosions might have been from a confetti cannon.
“We were so excited as we finished,” Bergeron’s niece Liz Goodwin, a runner, told his brother Chris Bergeron, who is a writer in Boston. “People were cheering. It was so cool. In an instant it turned to shock and deflation and just hoping everybody was OK.”
In Summit County and across the country, flags have been lowered to half-staff. Local law-enforcement agencies are now discussing safety plans for upcoming events like the USA Pro Cycle Challenge bicycle race, which will roll through Breckenridge in August. And churches across the community are organizing prayers and offering space for reflection.
“A lot of Summit County in general, but also Breckenridge, has people from all over,” Breckenridge’s Father Dyer pastor Loren Boyce said. “I’m sure there will be lots of connecting points of folks within the congregation to folks in the Massachusetts area.”
Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon has added the people of Boston to an emailed prayer chain that goes to 600 or 700 individuals in the community. Worship services there this weekend will likely address the events as well.
“The whole congregation is saddened and horrified by what’s been going on,” church administrator Katie Romanoski said.
Details on the bombings are still emerging, but recent reports suggest the explosives were built from pressure cookers packed with metal shards and nails.
The devices detonated approximately four hours into the race, when “the masses,” the amateur runners and those racing for charity, were crossing the finish line.
But for Kujawski, the incident won’t change the city.
“Boston is a proud, resilient, hardcore city,” she said. “We have heart, we have soul and we’ll get through it.”