Texas marathon runner witnesses double disasters

2013-04-19T00:00:00Z Texas marathon runner witnesses double disastersThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

People keep asking Joe Berti if he feels unlucky.

A bomb exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon moments after Berti finished the race. Two days later, the Austin, Texas resident witnessed the explosion of a fertilizer plant near Waco.

But Berti feels lucky. He left both tragedies unscathed, while members of his running group and his wife - who was closer to the Boston explosion than he was - were also unhurt.

"People keep saying, 'Don't you feel unlucky?' and I was actually ... saying not only do I not feel unlucky, but I feel blessed that my wife could be 10 yards from the explosion and not have a scratch," he said Thursday.

The bombings in Boston at the finish line of Monday's marathon, killed three people and left more than 180 wounded. In West, Texas, near Waco, a fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday, killing at least 15 people, injuring more than 160, and leveling homes, apartments and a school.

"We're grateful that God has been merciful to us," said Berti's wife, Amy. "We are just praying for the people who were so much less fortunate than we were."

Berti ran the Boston marathon with Champions4Children, a charity that helps kids with rare or undiagnosed disorders and their families. On Monday "I had just run to the finish line and … (moments) later I heard the first explosion, and then turned around and saw the smoke," he said. "I knew immediately that it was a bomb. … Then the second explosion occurred and I saw a wave of people running."

Amy Berti and a friend were yards from the first blast and both were hit by shrapnel. Amy was uninjured; her friend was bruised.

Then on Wednesday, back in Texas, Berti had a daylong meeting in Dallas. He was heading home on Interstate 35 Wednesday night when he saw his second explosion in two days.

"You've got to be kidding!" he remembers thinking. He described the giant fireball as a massive force that shook his car.

As black smoke billowed over the highway in front of him, Berti held his breath and drove through it.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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