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How one 'lucky Joe' dodged the bombs and explosions

PEOPLE keep asking Joe Berti if he feels unlucky.

A bomb exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon moments after Mr Berti finished the race. Two days later, he was in his home state of Texas when he saw a fertiliser plant explode near Waco.

"I was just like, 'I can't believe this!'" said Mr 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."

But Mr Berti, as it turns out, is far from unlucky. Instead, he feels fortunate. 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.

"It's a miracle," he said.

"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."

The bombings in Boston, which happened about 10 seconds apart at the finish line of Monday's marathon, killed three people and left more than 180 wounded. In West, Texas, which is near Waco, a fertiliser plant exploded Wednesday, killing at least five people, injuring more than 160, and levelling homes, apartments and a school.

Merciful

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

Mr Berti's road to the Boston marathon started just a couple months ago, when he decided to run with Champions4Children, a charity that helps youngsters with rare or undiagnosed disorders and their families. He was one of eight Austin-area runners who ran the marathon with that group. Each ran for a sick child or "training partner", who tracked his or her runner's marathon progress from home.

During the last four miles, 43-year-old Mr Berti, who wore bib number 25472, felt his body shutting down, and his pace slowed. But he was running for his partner Drew, and he vowed to finish.

"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."

Irish Independent