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home : news : news July 27, 2016

4/18/2013 10:20:00 AM
Berquam close to Boston bombs

by Ken Haggerty

The explosions that rocked the Boston Marathon may have been over 1,000 miles away from the Cannon Falls area, but they felt very close to home to some residents who had relatives running in the race.

Dick Berquam of the Sogn Valley had a daughter, Katy Vriez, cross the finish line of the marathon less than five minutes before the first bomb blast went off.

Katy said she and her husband, who was on the sidelines cheering her on, were probably about a block away from the finish line and the explosions.

"It sounded like a bomb, but, being a reasonable person, I thought there had to be some other explanation; like an accident or something," said Katy of her initial reaction after the first blast.

At that point she said people were still reasonably calm and composed where she was located, but when a second explosion was heard and more dust and smoke was seen, she said everybody knew something weird was going on.

At that point people began to run and flee the area, Katy said. She said they were leery of being near a line of buses in case of another explosion. The runners gear (like sweatpants and shirts) are all transported down to the finish line from the starting point 26 miles away via the buses.

Katy's husband had parked their car at the 16 mile mark of the course and they had planned on taking the subway train back to the vehicle, but that plan was changed when the subway system was shut down as a precautionary safety measure. It took about three hours before they were able to reach their vehicle by a shared taxicab, which was in high demand.

Cell phone communication with friends and family was difficult as the system was overrun with calls, but she was able to text her sister, Jen, who let other family members know they were fine. (Arnie and Ann Berquam of Randolph are her aunt and uncle and among those who were concerned.)

Katy grew up a member of the Urland Church and attended Kenyon-Wanamingo High School, graduating in 2000. She has a PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Iowa and is doing post-Doctoral studies at the University of Minnesota where she is engaged in cancer research. This was her fifth marathon, having qualified for Boston at the Twin Cities Marathon.

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