Joe Berti just might be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. A runner from the Austin, Texas, area, Berti finished the Boston Marathon just seconds before two bombs went off near the finish line. Unharmed by the explosions, Berti returned home to Texas just in time to witness the explosion of a fertilizer plant in the town of West.
On Thursday, Berti spoke with the Associated Press about his unique status as a witness and survivor of two explosions that rocked the nation this week. He says that despite being so close to two potentially fatal explosions, Berti actually feels extremely lucky.
"It's a miracle," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "People keep saying, 'Don't you feel unlucky?' and I was actually the opposite -- 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."
So how did Berti end up witnessing both explosions? An Austin-based runner, Berti traveled to Boston to raise money for the Champions4Children charity by running the Boston Marathon with his wife, Amy. She had already finished the race when Berti crossed the finish line. Seconds later, two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring more than 180. Berti and his wife were unharmed.
"I had just run to the finish line and like 30 seconds later I heard the first explosion, and then turned around and saw the smoke," Berti said. "I knew immediately that it was a bomb ... Then the second explosion occurred and I saw a wave of people running."
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After Berti returned home from Boston, he was sent on a business trip from Austin to Dallas. On the drive home, Berti witnessed the huge explosion of a fertilizer factory in West, just outside Waco. Berti says that the massive blast rocked his car while debris rained down around him. Miraculously, he was again unharmed and returned home safely to his wife.
Berti’s highly unlikely survival of both the Boston Marathon bombings and the Texas fertilizer plant explosion recalls the equally unlikely story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Japanese man who survived the 1945 bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yamaguchi, a resident of Nagasaki, was on a business trip in Hiroshima when the city was bombed on Aug. 6, 1945. Yamaguchi survived the enormous explosion and returned to Nagasaki. Despite being wounded in the Hiroshima bombing, Yamaguchi was at work in Nagasaki when an atomic bomb was dropped on August 9, 1945. In March 2009, the Japanese government officially recognized Yamaguchi as a survivor of both atomic bombings. Yamaguchi died in 2010 of stomach cancer.