NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when two bombs exploded, turning a day of celebrations into “a battle scene.”
Andruzzi was photographed Monday carrying a woman away from the blast site. But the New York City native, whose three brothers were first responders during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, insists he’s “definitely not a hero.”
“I am just a bystander, and that led to my help,” Andruzzi told the Boston Globe on Tuesday. “Many heroes that I look upon are people like my three brothers that are running into burning buildings when others are running out. Explosions are going off and they are driving their cars down Boylston (Street) right into the heart of the scene. They are the people that don’t care about their safety and are worried for other people’s safety and survival.”
Andruzzi, a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was hosting a party on Boylston Street for his foundation, which had a team of runners in the marathon. Andruzzi told the Globe he left the event around 2:45 p.m. to head to the finish line.
Minutes later, devastation. The bombings left three dead and more than 170 wounded.
“We found one (runner) and were looking for the next and all of a sudden that first explosion happened,” said Andruzzi. “It was loud, you felt the effects. In that instant, nobody knew anything. There were some screams and yelling and a lot of smoke. … Then about 10-15 seconds later there was the second explosion. Then mayhem just started.”
Andruzzi came to the aid of multiple people near the finish line. But it’s the photo of him carrying a woman in a light blue jacket — taken by the Boston Globe’s Bill Greene — that became one of the lasting images of heroism amid tragedy.
“I turned and saw three young women carrying somebody on their back,” Andruzzi told the Globe. “I ran over and that’s the picture you saw. I told them, ‘Let me help.’ Scooped her up and I remember them yelling at the cameraman, ‘Stop taking pictures of my mom.’ I walked her down the block and to an ambulance. Later I was talking to her, she was calming down. She had hurt her ankle. One of the kids had blood on their hand, must have gotten hit with something. She said she was fine, a little scrape and EMS was there and they were taking care of her.”
Andruzzi said he was “truly amazed” by the rapid response from emergency workers, volunteers, runners and spectators.
“To be able to turn around and know that there are many people out there that are looking to help and want to help, when you get into those moments, you don’t think, you just do,” he said. “That’s what I did and that’s what many other people did.”
Andruzzi gave thanks Wednesday on Twitter for “all for the kind words shared with me the last day or so.”
Andruzzi was born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island. His three FDNY siblings and their retired NYPD father were honored before a Patriots-Giants preseason game at Gillette Stadium in 2011.
The 37-year-old won three Super Bowl championships in five seasons (2000-04) with the Patriots. He also spent two seasons apiece in Green Bay and Cleveland.
If Andruzzi won’t call himself a hero, we’ll just do it for him. Leave your stories of selflessness and heroism in the comments…