Society

Marathon Runner Joe Berti Witnesses Both Boston Bombing and Texas Explosion

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Trouble seems to be following Joe Bertie wherever he goes. The Texas native, who ran in the Boston Marathon, experienced both the explosion at the finish line on Monday and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Tex., on Wednesday.

Joe Berti, 43, crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon just before a bomb exploded. He was separated from his wife, Amy, and reunited with her later at their hotel. After the couple returned home to Texas, Berti was driving home from work in Dallas on Interstate 35, when he saw and felt the explosion of the fertilizer plant in West, just outside of Waco.

"I was just like, `I can't believe this!'" said Berti, who said he had never witnessed an explosion before. Then he thought: "I just want to get out of here and get away from all these explosions."

The Boston bombings, which occurred 10 seconds apart, killed three people and injured 180 on Monday.

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Two days later, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the small Texas town of West killed 5 and injured 160 people. The powerful explosion, which registered as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake, leveled buildings in a five-block radius and burned so hot it melted railroad tracks. Homes, apartments, and a school were destroyed.

While it seems like bad luck, Berti and Amy, who was closer to the marathon explosion, survived both incidents unharmed.

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

Berti said after crossing the finish and hearing the explosing he was exhausted, but feared getting stuck in a stampede if he didn’t move.

"I had just run to the finish line and ... 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."

His wife and her friend were just yards from the first explosion and were both hit with shrapnel. Amy was uninjured, but her friend was bruised.

After going home to Texas, Berti returned to work Wednesay. He spent all day in Dallas and on his way home he witnessed the West fertilizer plant explosion, describing it as a giant fireball that shook his car.

Berti said he pulled over to take a picture, "My next reaction was to get out of there because something fell on the top of my car – some debris or something fell from the sky," he said.

A reporter suggested to Berti and his wife that they should consider staying home for a while.

"We need to keep him moving. Maybe he just needs to stand in an open field,” Amy joked.

Sources: Huffington Post, KSN.com, NY Times