You might say Joe Berti is one lucky man: He finished the Boston Marathon shortly before the bomb attacks on Monday only to return to Texas where he witnessed Wednesday's fertilizer explosion near Waco.
In an interview with Associated Press on Thursday, Berti recounted both experiences with understandable disbelief, while insisting that he feels incredibly lucky – not the opposite.
Even more so because his wife, Amy, was among the spectators near the finish line. She was hit by shrapnel and miraculously walked away unhurt. But, apparently, the woman next to her suffered severe injuries, losing all the fingers on her left hand and one of her legs from the knee down. "I had just watched him cross where that bomb was, so I didn't know if he made it through and I couldn't find him," Amy recalled. "I started to freak out a little bit."
Joe's cellphone had died, so immediately following the blast they had no way of finding each other. Only when they each returned to their hotel room did they discover that the other was okay.
Back in Texas, Joe went to Dallas on Wednesday for a meeting and a museum tour. En route home, he noticed black billowing smoke and was rocked by the subsequent explosion. Debris hit the roof of his car.
Prior to Monday, Berti had never witnessed any type of explosion. "I was just like, 'I can't believe this!' " the 43-year-old told AP.
It's the sort of story that defies the odds – or at least suggests an exceptional case of fate working in the couple's favour.
The same could not be said of Jessica Redfield (born Ghawi), the sports broadcaster and blogger from Texas who narrowly missed the Eaton Centre food court shooting in Toronto last summer only to end up among the 12 people killed in the Aurora, Colo., movie theatre shooting.
At the time, Alan Lipman, the founder and director of the Center for the Study of Violence in Washington and a professor at George Washington University, told The Globe and Mail that it would be nearly impossible to try to avoid such fatal fluke occurrences.
"It would be like saying, 'How would I protect myself against being hit by a flying piece of an orbiting space station?' " he said.
All the more reason why the Bertis are thanking their lucky stars.