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November 27, 2014 at 9:44 PM

4 men plead guilty in Bellevue, Kirkland hash-oil explosions

The Associated Press Four men who were charged in July for causing two separate hash-oil explosions have pleaded guilty to federal charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle said Daniel Strycharske and Jesse Kaplan pleaded guilty Friday to endangering human life while manufacturing a controlled substance. They also pleaded guilty to a charge of manufacturing hash oil…


Comments | Topics: Bellevue, explosions, hash oil

April 15, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Seattle-area runners in Boston: ‘This is probably it for me’

At least three people are dead and more than 130 injured by two explosions at the Boston Marathon’s finish line. Local runners and other Seattle-area people tell their stories:


Boston police officers just after an explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe)

Boston police officers react to the first explosion that knocked Bill Iffrig, 78, of Lake Stevens, to the ground during the Boston Marathon Monday. Iffrig, a veteran runner from the Seattle area, got up after a few minutes and finished the race. Images of Iffrig getting knocked off his feet were broadcast on television and posted online across the country Monday. (John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe)

For Bill Iffrig, whether to finish the race was not a question.

The 78-year-old Lake Stevens man got knocked to the ground 15 feet from the finish line by the first explosion in a moment documented by a photograph that quickly went viral.

“The force from it just turned my whole body to jelly, and I went down,” said Iffrig, noting that nothing actually hit him.

“I thought, ‘This is probably it for me.’”

But when Iffrig rolled over and realized he had only a scraped knee, he knew he had to finish.

“Somebody came by with a wheelchair, but I said, ‘I’m fine.’ I wanted to finish,” said Iffrig, a retired carpenter and well-known Club Northwest running club member participating in his 45th marathon, including his third in Boston.

The U.S. Track and Field website lists him as one of the nation’s top masters long-distance road runners for his age category. On Monday, he finished fourth among men ages 75-79, according to the Boston Marathon website.

With sirens sounding all around him, Iffrig kept walking to downtown Boston’s Park Plaza hotel to find his wife, Donna. The two met on a blind date and got married 58 years ago, Iffrig said. They’ve been living in the same Lake Stevens house for 50 years, Iffrig said.

“We’re not quitters,” he said.

Iffrig and his wife spoke by phone from their hotel later in the day. Iffrig said his ears were still ringing, but the couple was glad nothing worse happened.

“I was really lucky,” Iffrig said. “If I’d been any closer at all to that thing, I wouldn’t have made it.”

The couple are planning to return home Friday.

— Brian M. Rosenthal


6:45 p.m. | Ericka Mitterndorfer of Seattle was picking up her bag of clothes about a block and a half from the finish line when she heard an explosion, then looked down the street to see white smoke billowing near the finish line.

Everyone around her turned to look, and then the second bomb went off.

Then there was a silence for a few minutes before the sirens started.

Mitterndorfer said she felt vulnerable, standing in the middle of the street in a city she didn’t know, hemmed in by school buses used to transport runners’ clothing bags from the start to the finish line.

“Where do you go? You don’t know the city, you don’t know what’s safe,” she said.

“You don’t know the city, you don’t know what’s safe.’”

She was able to make a quick call to her parents to tell them she was all right, but then cell service stopped, so she couldn’t immediately reach the friend she was supposed to meet, who was also in the race.

It was a difficult end to what, until the explosions, had been a great day for Mitterndorfer, who is 42 and had long dreamed of qualifying to run this historic race.

“I cried when I crossed the finish line,” she said. “It was this beautiful, I-am-a-strong-person and I-can-get-through-this moment.”

Then, 20 minutes later, she stood in the middle of the street with a knot in her stomach, feeling vulnerable and helpless.

Those two moments aren’t related, she said, but she will never be able to think about one without the other.
–Linda Shaw
5:45 p.m. | Had Jeff Poppe, 62, just been a couple of seconds slower or had his wife moved just a couple of feet closer to get a better view as he neared the finish line, both could have been badly injured.

Poppe and his wife, Anita, from Bellevue, said Monday they were lucky they weren’t harmed in the blast.

Anita Poppe, 64, was standing in front of a sporting goods store, waiting to catch a glimpse of Jeff, who finished the race at 2:49 p.m. and 27 seconds. The two blasts occurred around 2:50 p.m.

Poppe said it felt like she was only 10 feet from the blast. She saw white smoke and heard screams as she turned away from the stands and started to sprint. Soon it was a stampede with people falling down, she said.

“People were running for their lives,” Anita Poppe said. “We were afraid we were going to be hit. I didn’t look back until the second explosion, and it was again puffs of heavy, thick white smoke.”

Seconds after crossing the finish line, Jeff Poppe said he heard an explosion just 20 yards behind him and knew immediately it was the sound of a bomb.

In the chaos, Poppe realized his wife had been standing near the explosion.  “I thought, ‘Oh, my God! She could be there!’ ” Poppe said.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God! She could be there!”

When she found him, “he was in shock,” Anita Poppe said, because he feared she was dead.

She said the chaos continued after the race was canceled. The Poppes are staying at the Marriott Hotel Copley Place, where guests are not allowed to leave.

“Everybody is freaked out, and Boston is shut down,” she said. “We’re in lock-down here. It’s mayhem here.”

She said people are still milling around looking for loved ones. Some are angry, others are hugging and banding together at the hotel, she said.

Poppe said she thought about moving into a better position to view the finish line, but the crowd was too thick. “If I had moved 10 feet to the right … it could have been a fatal change,” she said.
— Christine Willmsen


4:40 p.m. | Emily Brain, 29, a special-education teacher who lives in Seattle, had finished the race when 30 minutes later, “We heard a bunch of sirens and cop cars going by.”

She and her husband, Cullen Brain, a real-estate agent who doesn’t race, were walking back to a friend’s home near the finish line, where they were staying.

The bombings won’t stop her from returning for next year’s race. “And I believe strongly in not letting terrorists make you terrified. We can’t let it get to us.

“I believe strongly in the spirit of the event. It’s such an amazing race,” said Brain.

— Erik Lacitis


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