Ventura County

Boston bombing hits close to home

Locals race to find out if their relatives are OK

Boston bombing hits close to home

VENTURA, Calif. - As the Ventura County bureau chief for KEYT NewsChannel 3, I was asked to get local reaction about what happened during the Boston Marathon on Monday.

Many people have friends running in the race. In my case, I knew my own stepmother was running in the race for her sixth time. My father has run in the past, but this time he was cheering his wife on a block and a half from the finish line.

After the bomb went off,  my stepmother, Janet Lehr, was not answering her phone.  I was a nervous about their welfare as I interviewed runners at Inside Track in Ventura.  Inside Track outfits most local high school track teams and elite runners in the area. They called it the Holy Grail of running events. 

Ruth Vomund, a three-time Boston finisher is married to Gary Tuttle, the second-place finisher in 1985. Vomund teared up and said running had just lost its innocence.

The bombs went off four hours into the race. I was relieved, knowing my stepmother qualified by running a marathon under four hours.

A Facebook post said she was OK, but I wanted to hear her voice. I dialed again and again. She finally picked up and shared her experience.  Janet said she crossed the finish line 10 minutes before the bombing. She said she shed tears of joy after finishing in her own record time,  but then she heard the explosion and tears of  fear and sadness flowed.

With help from race volunteer, she found my father, Jay Lehr,  in the crowd.  He said it was the loudest thing he ever heard.  They were told not to make calls and not to leave the area until the investigation cleared.

The owners of Inside Track are still trying to find out if their friends and customers in Boston are OK.  Vomund said she hopes to run the Boston Marathon again next year to pay her respects to the those killed and injured.

By then,  investigators may know who set the bombs off and why.