Jim Dietsche finished the Boston Marathon just 40 minutes before the chaos began.
Dietsche, his wife and their three children were less than a half-mile from the site of the explosions when they saw people rushing down Boylston Street, where the bombings took place, in hysterics.
“There was a lot of panic,” said Dietsche, a De Pere resident who had run Boston eight times before Monday’s race. “There were sirens all over, ambulance, fire, police — all with a goal of trying to push all the people away from area. It was very, very scary. We’re still frazzled.”
The Dietsche family sought shelter with others in the back room of a nearby store for 20 minutes, unsure of what was happening. After another half-hour, they heard the news: two bombs exploded near the marathon’s finish line.
“I was just at a loss for words,” said Dietsche, who is the chief financial officer at Bellin Hospital. “I’ve seen video several times (now), including a runner going down … I ran very close to that, that literally was where I ran. I don’t even want to think about that. I thank the Lord for our safety, that I was able to get a hold of everyone else out here that I knew. I’m just awestruck by the tremendous tragedy that happened.”
Dietsche noted that the race is typically a celebration, but after the bombing, those happy times were tarnished.
“It was supposed to be … our kids seeing something historic,” he said. “This leaves a very poor mark on something that’s supposed to be such an exciting event. I don’t want them to face realities of real world yet.
“I love the event and the pageantry, but I don’t know if I’ll run it again,” Dietsche said Monday evening.
Randy Van Straten, executive director of the Bellin Run in Green Bay, said organizers have “extensive” disaster and mass casualty plans. Local public safety officials, ambulances and hospitals are involved with disaster planning from the start of planning for the 10K, he said.
“We may adjust some operations as a result,” Van Straten said. “I’m sure we’re gonna sit down and look at experiences out there, and there will be lessons learned as a result, but I don’t know how at this point will it affect our plans.”
—Originally published Green Bay Press-Gazette, April 2013
(Note: Original version had multiple authors, edited to reflect personal contribution)