Ruth Berg's fiancé opens up on tragic loss after explosion

Image 1 of 2

Mark Burrington heard the explosion at Minnehaha Academy from just down the block at his home that he shared with his fiancé Ruth Berg. The two were set to be married next month.

“When I came around, I mean I saw that,” said Burrington. “I knew right where [Ruth] sat. I knew it was bad. Really, really bad.”

He didn’t hesitate racing inside in a final, desperate attempt to locate the love of his life.

“It was so quiet in there,” he said. “I was screaming, ‘Ruth, Ruth, Ruth.’ Nothing. It was so quiet.”

Tragically, he never found her. Search and recovery crews would eventually pull Berg’s body from the debris hours later.

“She’s a kind, loving person,” he said. “I don’t know what to do without her. No idea. Every day that I plan for the rest of my life, she’s in it. I can’t believe it.”

In addition to the loss of the long-time school receptionist, the Minnehaha Academy community is also grieving the death of John Carlson.

“He’s like the silent ambassador to our school,” said Christian Zimmerman, the school’s cross country coach.

Carlson, 81, was employed as a custodian, but he was so much more. He graduated from the school in 1953 and as he got older, he still made a point to participate in Minnehaha’s annual 5k run. The cross country team made sure he always had a crew with him to cross the finish line triumphantly.

“Just beautiful thing to see,” said Zimmerman. “And then the next couple days, he’d come out with dilly bars and be like, ‘Hey thanks for running with me. Really appreciate it.’ Just a wonderful, mutually loving relationship between students and John Carlson.”

A day later, the explosion and its impact on the community are still too hard to believe.

“It’s like a bad dream for a lot of us," Zimmerman said. "Hoping we’re going to wake up from it.”