Boston Marathon Bombing Hits Close to Home for Clarksville Native and Golden Suns Alum

Victoria Willis (left) and Mindy Lasater Newlee (right)

In sports, 13 minutes and 25 seconds is an eternity. Teams can stage come-from-behind rallies, where athletes can have their names etched into the history books where their stories can be retold for years to come. But outside the world of sports, 13 minutes and 25 seconds goes by quickly.   For former Arkansas Tech and Clarksville High School standout Mindy Lasater Newlee, that brief moment in time may have made the difference between life and death.  The Clarksville native, who played for the Golden Suns basketball program from 1999-2002 and is Tech’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made with 279, had stood mere yards from the finish line – 13 minutes and 25 seconds prior to the explosion.

“One of my good friends that coached with me at Northwestern State, Victoria Willis, qualified for the Boston Marathon so I went with her to cheer her on,” said Newlee. “There were so many people running, and our plan was to have her meet me at the finish line after she finished.”

At the 3:56:18 mark of the marathon, Willis crossed the finish line. And despite the sheer volume of people competing in and finishing the race, Newlee was able to pick her friend out of the crowd and watch her finish the race. It was a stroke of luck for both Newlee and Willis, who was one of over 17,500 runners to complete the marathon.

“I happened to see Victoria cross the finish line, so I walked down the side of the corral down to where the runners get out,” said Newlee. “If I hadn’t seen her, I would have been seriously injured.”

At the 4:09:43 mark – just 13 minutes and 25 seconds after Willis crossed the finish line, the first bomb exploded at the finish line. 13 seconds later, the second bomb exploded. The blasts killed three and wounded a total of 264, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. 48 of the injured remain hospitalized.   For Newlee, the 13 minute and 25 second cushion prevented her from being counted among the injured. And shortly after the bombing, she was able to return to her home in Natchitoches, La., where she currently works as a teacher and coach.

“When I see the footage on TV it gives me chills, because I see where I was standing just ten minutes before,” said Newlee. “God was watching out for us.”

(Special thanks to ATU Sports Information Director Paul Smith)