Kent State professor, students witness Boston Marathon bombings



Medical workers aid injured people at the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan)

Leighann McGivern

Note: Read more on the Boston Marathon bombings here.

According to the official Boston Marathon website, five runners in the marathon were listed as being from Kent, Ohio. One of those listed, Christopher Was, is a Kent State professor in lifespan development and education sciences.

Was said he had finished the race when the explosion happened, though some of the other runners in his group had not. None sustained injuries in the explosions.

“We actually saw the explosions from our hotel when it happened,” Was said. “What happened was we finished the race and had been finished for 40 minutes and were in the hotel room, two blocks north of the finish line. We heard the first explosion, and it sounded like a cannon… We looked out the window and the second one came. Plumes of smoke were in the street. We were in disbelief.”

Was and the other members of his group aren’t allowed to leave the hotel for 24 hours.

“It is quiet,” Was said. “Most people are hanging out in their rooms. There are some people in the streets, but not nearly as many in a typical day. I know other people from Kent area here — not sure [about their] status[es]. As far as how many injured, all we know is what’s on news. Hopeful everyone from [Northeast Ohio] made it safe. We’re all shaken by this.”

Was said this was the first time he had qualified to compete in the Boston Marathon. He placed 117th running in the race. There were more than 23,000 people who ran in the race this year.

Christina Dziak, a graduate student in public relations, said she was in Boston with her fiancé, who was running in the marathon. The Daily Kent Stater corresponded with Dziak via Facebook message because she didn’t have cell service at the time. Following the race, she said she and her fiancé met in the family meeting area and made their way to a friend’s house.

“It’s unfortunate because runners are incredibly supportive of each other,” Dziak wrote. “The atmosphere before all of this was incredible — exciting, thrilling, exhilarating — and it’s a sad day for the running community and especially the Boston Marathon community.”

Another student, Allison Machnicki posted on her Facebook page, letting friends and family know she was OK.

She posted, “Hey everyone. I am okay and uninjured. I finally made it back to my car and am charging my phone. Spread the word I am okay.”

Sara Harper, co-founder and president of the Kent State Running Club and graduate student in exercise physiology, did not run in the marathon but said she had friends who did.

“It’s sad to think that something as peaceful as running, someone had tried to disturb it, Harper said. “I think the running community was brought together as a whole [because of it]. My heart goes out for everyone. I’m still waiting to hear back from friends if they’re OK.”

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected].

Megan Wilkinson, assigning editor, and Alicia Balog, administration reporter, contributed to reporting.