Joe Berti is feeling particularly blessed this week.
Just moments after Berti finished the Boston Marathon on Monday, bombers set off explosions at the finish line.
“I heard the first explosion and as soon as I heard the first explosion — it was so loud — and so I turned around and saw the smoke coming from the finish line so at that instant I just felt like it was a bomb ’cause it was right at the finish line,” Berti told ABC News today. “It was a lot of smoke. … Literally seconds later, the second bomb exploded. You definitely knew it was a bomb.”
Wearing the bib number 25472, Berti had been participating in the marathon with a group from Texas running for a children’s charity. He had agreed to run just eight weeks before the event. He said after the second blast, chaos erupted.
“People started running towards me. People were screaming. I saw people crying. I saw a lot of people trying to find their loved ones,” he said.
His wife, Amy, who had just taken a picture of him crossing the finish line, was 10 yards away from the blast. A woman standing next to her lost a leg from the knee down and the fingers on her left hand.
Amy was not hurt and Berti walked away without a scratch.
The bombings killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and injured 176.
Berti, unsure of his wife’s location, was eventually able to reunite with her an hour after the race at their hotel room. They later headed back home to Texas to see their two daughters.
Two days later, Berti was driving home from a meeting about 10 miles north of Waco, when he saw a huge fire raging in the distance. Then, he heard that now all-too familiar sound — it was the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, exploding. The force rocked Berti’s car.
The town was nearly flattened, at least 13 were killed and hundreds were injured.
“I was just trying to figure out what it was,” Berti said. “Was it a terrorist attack? Did someone drop a bomb on us? The size of it was just incredible. I was thinking [I] can’t believe this is happening.”
Berti said he pulled his car over, took a picture and then headed home, driving through thick, black smoke.
“I feel blessed,” he told ABC News. “We [he and Amy] both feel blessed that we’re both O.K. and glad to be back in Austin.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.