Fifteen days ago, Jarrod Clowery was standing with three friends on Boylston Street in front of the Forum Bar watching the Boston Marathon.
Today, Clowery, a 35-year-old carpenter from nearby Stoneham, is in Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, recovering from shrapnel wounds and thermal injuries suffered near the second explosion. He's had multiple surgeries to remove carpentry nails, BB's, pieces of plastic and denim from his jeans embedded in him from the pressure cooker bomb planted near the railing three feet from where he was standing. Doctors estimate Clowery will face several more surgeries to remove the 20 BB's left in him. Yet he considers himself lucky.
"I feel blessed," Clowery said Tuesday during a press conference at the hospital. "My friends are in much worse shape."
Clowery's friends—Marc Fucarile and brothers Paul and J.P. Norden—each lost a limb in the second blast.
The group can be seen standing near 19-year-old bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in one of the photos released by the FBI. But Clowery can't bring himself to look at his alleged attacker.
"I don't even look at the bomber," he said. "I look at me and my friends."
When he heard the first explosion, Clowery said, he knew it was not an accident. "I knew right away in my gut it wasn't a gas leak," he said. "I saw the open space in the street, I said, 'Let's get in the street.'"
As Clowery cleared the railing, he paused to urge his friends to follow him. That was when the second bomb exploded.
"I remember feeling engulfed," he said. "Just like the movies—all the sound got taken away."
Clowery continued: "I remember trying to count my fingers and feel my feet. My hand was too much to look at."
He looked down at his legs. He didn't want to look at them, either.
Two off-duty police officers picked up Clowery from the ground and carried him to an ambulance. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors said he had suffered the worst burns of any victim they saw.
But now, according to Dr. Robert Riviello, a lead surgeon on the hospital's burn, trauma and critical care unit, Clowery's burns have "almost entirely" healed.
Clowery praised Riviello and the emergency room doctors who treated him.
"In all my years in New England, I’ve never seen Tom Brady put a drive together as good as what these people are doing," Clowery said, later adding: "No disrespect to Tom Brady."
As for what he'd say to Tsarnaev given the chance, Clowery declined to answer. He's "gotten too much air time," he said.
A fund has been set up by Clowery's family to help pay for his medical expenses.
Clowery, who's being transferred to a rehabilitation facility on Wednesday, hasn't decided if he'll go back to the marathon next year.
"I'm not scared to go back," he said. "I'm not scared of crowds. Maybe me and the same group of guys will go back down there."