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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • Sleepy Eye resident tells her first hand account of the Boston Marathon

  • Nancy Haala watched her daughter run the race, exclusive interview
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  • A week and a half ago, terror struck at the Boston Marathon. Many people were in shock and awe of what happened. But how would it feel to actually have been there when the bombings took place?
     
    Local resident Nancy Haala was at the marathon watching her daughter Dana Cushing run the race. Fortunately, neither Haala nor Cushing were near the bomb site when the terror struck.
     
    Cushing successfully finished the race with a time of 3:42, which was 23 minutes before the first bomb went off. Meanwhile, Haala was in transit in a subway to go meet her daughter when it happened.
     
    “All of a sudden the subway stopped, the doors opened, police all over,” Haala said. “Everybody out. We knew this wasn’t just a breakdown, but we didn’t know what.”
    Haala then received a text from Cushing that said, “Explosion?” This was after Cushing received a text from a friend notifying her of what happened and to get out of Boston.
     
    Haala said she was eventually reunited with her daughter and some friends at a restaurant they had agreed to meet at. Everyone cried when they were reunited, and after all of the confusion and questions, they were finally able to realize the severity of what happened.
     
    “We hadn’t seen the horror till we got to the restaurant and met,” Haala said. “It was just blood everywhere.”
    Haala said a variety of emotions were flowing through her.
     
    “It’s disbelief, you don’t feel,” Haala said. “You want to be with your family.”
     
    After the group ate at the restaurant, they made their way back to the hotel they stayed at, which was in the small suburb of Newton. Haala said that the people of Boston were super nice. So nice, in fact, that a stranger helped drive the group back to their hotel, which was seven miles away, without question.
     
    “Boston people, from the minute we got off the plane, were just awesome the whole time, it was great,” Haala said.
     
    Just moments after the bombing, all types of emergency vehicles were lining the streets, something that Haala described as an amazing scene.
     
    “The sounds of sirens and police cars and helicopters and ambulances just lining the streets... it was just absolutely incredible,” Haala said.
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    Haala mentioned the terror of what happened hadn’t really sunk in until after the fact. She said her daughter still flashes back to the memories whenever she hears a helicopter or siren in her hometown of Sioux Falls.
     
    She also said her daughter has great spirit and wants to run in the marathon again next year to support the victims and fight what happened there.
     
    As of now, Haala said she would be too ambivalent to attend an event with a big crowd for a while after witnessing the horror.
     
    “When you watch it on TV, you can distance yourself, but when you’re there and you smell it and see it and see the panic, it’s like you can’t describe it,” Haala said.
     
    But out of all of the feelings and emotions, Haala said the most frightening ones are the what ifs. If Cushing had run a bit slower, got a sore knee, or anything, she could have been right near the bomb went it went off.
     
    Haala also mentioned that she tends to usually watch her daughter on the left side of the street, which is the side of the street where the bombs went off. But Haala said she has to remind herself of the good that happened in the event as well.
     
    “It’s sadness, anger, grief and gratitude, all mixed,” Haala said. “There were so many of us that were in the right place and so many that weren’t. The people on the street that reached in with their hands and were blood soaked to help their fellow man was incredible. There are way more good people than there are not good people.”
     
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