Boston Marathon bombings hit close to home for some DePauw students


When senior Estee Ward's younger sister heard the first bomb go off at the Boston Marathon outside her Berklee College of Music dorm, she thought it was a firework.
But when she heard the second one, which sounded a little differently, she knew something was wrong.
Before the flag outside the Hub was lowered to half-mast following the April 15 bombings at the Boston Marathon, many DePauw students were feeling intense emotions about events happening nearly a thousand miles away from Greencastle. These emotions hit close to home for some DePauw students, as they did for Ward.
"I was in class when it happened," Ward said. "When I got out of class I had a voicemail from my mom saying, 'You probably heard by now what's going on.'"
When Ward listened to the whole voicemail and learned that bombs had gone off four blocks away from her sister's dorm, she didn't know how to process it.
Her sister is 18 and at college for the first time, a considerable distance away from family in Chicago. Ward knew she had to call her sister.
It took Ward a while to reach her sister by phone since so many people were calling her. Once she was able to reach her, she heard her sister crying on the other end.
"When something like that happens so close to one of your family members, you don't really know how to feel," Ward said. "And when the suspect was on the loose, that was also very terrifying."
Classes were canceled for the next few days, her sister had to stay in her dorm, and security was extremely heavy.
"The National Guard was all up and down the street that she [walks] to class," Ward said.
Even so, Ward said that it was comforting to see the city rally the way it did and support its citizens as they shut down the city to look for the suspect.
Though Ward is grateful that the suspect is now in custody and nothing tragic happened to her family, this event has heightened her awareness that devastating things can happen anytime.
"There are students just like us that populate that city," Ward said. "That city is so heavily populated by young people our age going to school, and they have so much ahead of them."
Junior Emma Pence was actually in Boston when the bombings happened, and she went there specifically for the marathon, to see her brother-in-law run.
Pence and some other family members walked through the finish line area about 30 minutes before the bombings. Since her brother-in-law had finished the race, they all went to a park that was a considerable distance away from the finish line.
"I had a friend of mine from DePauw text me and ask me about explosions, and ask me if I was okay," Pence said. "I had no idea what he was talking about."
Then she received a flood of texts and calls from her friends asking her if she was okay, since they had seen the bombing on the news.
"It wasn't until we got to the airport that same day that we saw it on TV, and then realized how bad it was," Pence said.
Pence said at baggage check and security, it took 30 minutes to get through the line when there were only about five people in front of her. Her flight was delayed for a few hours.
When she actually got on the plane, she was nervous about someone placing a bomb on the Chicago-bound flight, especially since there were many runners on board.
"Something that is usually so foreign that you see on TV and you read about just [became] so real," Pence said.
Pence said she feels content for the people in Boston now that the suspect is in custody, but at that same time it does not erase what happened.
"All you could think about was this horrible massacre, as opposed to the hard work and accomplishments you have made running," she said of the athletes that ran. "So that was the saddest thing, that's what all the runners took away from it."
Freshman Grace Flickinger's father has ran the Boston Marathon about eight times before, and it scares her to think he could have been there on April 15.
"Luckily a few days before, he had a hip replacement," she said. "He couldn't go and run."
Of the attacks, she said that she didn't believe it at first when she heard the news.
She feels better now, knowing that the suspect is in custody. But she says she's still scared.
"Anything like that - it can happen anywhere," Flickinger said.
Though many DePauw students have experienced many different emotions over the course of recent events in Boston, there's no question that many now have heightened awareness of the possibility of such occurrences.