AUSTIN (KXAN) - Standing next to the first in a long line of baggage claim carousels at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, two sisters waited for their parents to return after a week in Boston – a trip that threatened to rip this family apart.
"My dad ran in the Boston Marathon," Bella Berti, 11, explained. "He was running for charity."
Their father Joe had made his first marathon a big one. He chose Boston to run for the charity Champions for Children. Their mother Amy tagged along to cheer for him at the finish line.
Bella and Gianna, 8, left school Monday not knowing about the marathon explosions just yet. Their grandparents picked them up and told them the news.
"We were trying to call (mom), but her phone was out of battery," Gianna said. "We had to wait till longer."
Around an hour passed before they received a text from Amy – they were both safe.
"The lady right next to mommy," Gianna began.
Bella finished, "She got her leg and a few fingers blown off,"
Now - less than a day later - the sisters found themselves waiting to see their parents' faces appear from the terminal. They had worked to catch the first flight back to Austin.
Before long, the couple was hurrying into their daughters' arms. Joe still wore his marathon attire.
"I'm so glad to be home," he said with a heavy breath. "I watched it explode. It was kind of surreal. It was just chaos after that. Everyone just started running towards me. I was worried about people stampeding."
The girls had questions, as the little family rolled its suitcases across the airport. They learned their father had barely escaped the blast, running through the finish line just minutes before.
Their mother was ten yards across the street watching people flee. The woman next to her had indeed lost her leg, and they were both crouched in a doorway in the moments to follow. She left the woman in the care of another man and went in search of her husband.
She spotted an Austin police officer who was on Joe's running team. He used his resources to track down him down, and the couple caught up with each other later that afternoon – surprisingly unharmed.
"My first thought was, ‘I just watched my husband run through that finish line,'" Amy said. "Did he make it to the other side? I didn't know."
The girls and their grandparents escorted the weary travelers to their car, with Joe saying "terrorists would not stop him from" returning to the Boston Marathon in the future..
Amy instead focused on the present: "We're just glad to be home and know that everybody's in one spot. We thank God for taking care of us."
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Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Google brings its new wearable computer to Austin this from Saturday, Dec.14 to Sunday, Dec. 15.
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