Ellendale family returns safely from Boston

Published 10:39am Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mother, 2 daughters were a block from the Boston blasts

Jennifer Misgen, a spectator at the Boston Marathon on Monday, thought the blast was thunder.

The Ellendale native who now lives in Minneapolis was in Boston to cheer on her sister, Ashley Misgen of Minneapolis. And she was there with her mother, Ellendale resident Connie Evenson, and Ashley’s fiance, A.J. Cookas of Minneapolis.

After the second blast, the streets became windy, said Jennifer.

“I thought, ‘If that was a bomb, I’m going to lose my mind.’”

The 35-year-old was happy to see her younger sister was safe.

Ashley, 26, crossed the finish line for the 26.2-mile run in 3 hours and 44 minutes. The blasts occurred at 4 hours and 9 minutes into the marathon. Jennifer and Connie had been five blocks from the finish line when 26-year-old Ashley crossed.

Ashley was going through the after-race procedures, and Jennifer, Connie and A.J. were about a block from the finish line at a place where families meet the runners when the bombs blew up, which spread carnage on Boylston Street near the finish line.

However, they didn’t see any of the bloody scene, Jennifer said. While they waited, she did duck into a bar quickly to see what the TV reports were saying. Cellphones didn’t work. People were dashing everywhere.

“I have never seen so many ambulances, fire trucks and cops,” Jennifer said.

Ashley finally arrived at the family reception area, and even though she had just run a marathon and her legs were cramping, the four of them quickly got out of the area and headed to the car.

Moments before, the streets had been filled with people cheering.

“There was dead silence in the streets,” Jennifer said.

They drove out of downtown to Woburn, the Boston suburb where their hotel was.

Jennifer, a bartender in Minneapolis, said she happened to be in New York during the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. She was staying at a corporate apartment on 56th and Broadway.

Being near terrorism for a second time has rattled her.

“I am staying off the East Coast,” she said Tuesday as she waited to board an airplane to take her back to Minnesota. “I am not traveling out there ever again.”

Jennifer added that she enjoyed the uplifting spirit of watching the Boston Marathon and was particularly moved by the story of Team Hoyt, a 73-year-old father and a 51-year-old son who have run and competed in triathlons and marathons for 31 years. Rick Hoyt and his father, Dick, who rides in a wheelchair, were a mile away from the finish line when the blasts occurred. Because the finish line became a crime scene — the explosions killed three and injured at least 170 — race officials stopped Team Hoyt and the remaining runners in the marathon.