NC woman crossed marathon finish line minutes before explosion

Marsha Kouba (center) arrived at the Raleigh Durham International Airport from Boston Tuesday morning with her daughter Jessica (left) and niece Emma. (ABC11 Reporter Anthony Wilson)

April 16, 2013 10:24:13 AM PDT
North Carolina resident Marsha Kouba says she crossed the Boston Marathon finish line minutes before two bombs exploded Monday.

Kouba arrived at the Raleigh Durham International Airport from Boston Tuesday morning with her daughter and niece. All three said they were very relieved to be home after their close call less than 24 hours earlier.

"It looks like a war zone," Kouba said. "There's the National Guard, Humvees, it's just horrible."

She had just finished the race when the first bomb went off around 2:50 p.m.

"I didn't know exactly where the bomb went off, so my panic was trying to get through to her, make sure she was okay," Koub's daughter Jessica Kouba said.

Jessica Kouba said she was at the 17-mile marker, 9 miles away from her mother at the finish lane, when chaos ensued.

"I had Emma, my 17-year-old niece with me, and the only thing I could think about was getting her away from the finish line," Marsha Kouba said. "When the first bomb went off, there was no doubt in my mind it was a bomb."

Though authorities suspended cell phone service in the area after the blast, the women were able to contact one another before the cutoff.

"I called my husband in a panic, then I got where I could stop and look at my phone, and Jessica had texted me," Kouba said.

The women said as they reconnected and moved away from the chaotic blast scene, they stopped and helped people who got trampled.

"We didn't see the blood and gore and horrific injuries," Jessica Kouba said. "People just went crazy! There are so many unfortunate families up there now, we're just blessed that we weren't involved more so than we already were."

Monday's event was Marsha Kouba's ninth in Boston and while she got her medal before the bombs went off, she said she did tell her husband that she thought it might be her last.

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