The 26-year-old Chinese engineer who was carjacked by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects said he was "lucky" to survive an agonizing 90-minute car ride that ended with his escape.
"God was with me," said the man, who goes by the nickname Danny, in an interview on the "Today" show Wednesday.
Danny appeared on "Today" with his face concealed and his voice modified to describe his harrowing encounter with the bombing suspects on April 18.
Three nights after the marathon attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260, Danny was sitting in his Mercedes when a man approached from behind, put his hand through the open window and opened the door from the inside, Danny said. He then pointed a gun at him while asking if he knew of the bombing.
“I said, "Yes, of course,’’’ Danny recalled. “Then he said, ‘I did that. And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.’’’
The attacker was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Danny said. He ordered him to drive the car while pointing a gun at him. Tsarnaev’s younger brother Dzhokhar was following them in a sedan. Danny's body was shaking so much that he had trouble driving, he said.
“Tamerlan told me, ‘Relax, man. Slow down. Don't drive too fast,’’ Danny said.
Tamerlan soon took over the wheel and Dzhokhar joined them in the Mercedes, he said. The attackers transferred items from the sedan into the Mercedes. Danny didn’t know it at the time, but those items were explosives, which the brothers later hurled at police during a firefight in Watertown, Mass., according to authorities.
Danny, meanwhile, was plotting his escape. The brothers stopped as a gas station in Cambridge, with Dzhokhar leaving the vehicle go to an ATM and get gas. That’s when Danny unbuckled his seatbelt with his left hand, opened the door with his right hand and ran from the car.
I took off,’’ Danny said. “[Tamerlan] tried to grab me. He was trying to grab me. It was very close. I can feel it.”
Danny ran to another gas station and called 911. Authorities used his car’s satellite system and the iPhone he left in his car to track the suspects.
"I think Dzhokhar is, like, a follower,'' Danny said of the surviving suspect. "He went out to the ATM (at the gas station). He went out to get the gas. Tamerlan never got out of the car."
While Danny plans to testify at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's trial and expects to be identified, he wants to remain under the radar for now, NBC's Matt Lauer said.