Austin runner Joe Berti. (credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Austin runner Joe Berti. (credit: CBSDFW.COM)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Depending on how you look at it, a Texas man is either one of the luckiest people in the world, or one of the unluckiest.

There’s something to be said for Texan Joe Berti’s sense of timing. He ran the Boston Marathon on April 15 and was just yards from exploding bombs there. Then as he drove home on Interstate-35 saw and felt the explosion at the fertilizer plant in West.

Berti was part of a group from Austin that decided to run the Boston Marathon on behalf of a non-profit organization. He readily admits that the more than 26-mile race on Monday was an incredible physical challenge.

Though the 43-year-old’s pace had slowed and energy level was drained, Berti proudly crossed the Boston Marathon finish line. Just moments later the first of two explosions happened. “I turned around and saw the smoke, and the finish line, and just immediately knew it was a bomb,” he said.

Berti’s thoughts immediately turned to his wife who was to be waiting at an area restaurant for him to complete the race. It turns out his wife, Amy, and a friend decided to go to the finish line and wait – shrapnel hit them both, but their injuries weren’t serious.

People standing near Berti’s wife, just 10 yards from first bomb, weren’t so lucky.  “The woman next to her lost her leg and had lost part of her hand.”

One day later, with his wife in tow, Berti flew back to Austin. It was time to get back to a regular routine, so Wednesday he headed out on a business trip to Dallas. Things were uneventful until he set out on the drive back home.

Berti had almost reached Waco when he saw a huge plume of black smoke and then, again, felt the force of some type of blast. “First thing I thought was, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’  This is the second explosion,” he recalled. “This one wasn’t small. This was giant. It was like a giant mushroom cloud. I felt my car shake and the sound of it was just massive. It was extremely loud.”

Berti had just felt the explosion at the West Fertilizer plant. Friday afternoon the death toll from the blast increased to 14. Hundreds of other people hurt are still recovering. While touring the area, Texas Senator John Cornyn said there were some 60 people who are still unaccounted for.

The events of the last week were traumatic for both Berti and his wife, so the couple thought it best for them to stay focused on the future. “We just decided just to go back to normal, like you know, not dwell on this. If we just sit around and think about it, it actually makes it worse.”

The devastation that families across Texas, and the country, are feeling isn’t something the Bertis disregard. They definitely feel fortunate. “For me I feel blessed. I feel like God’s protected us.”

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