Nightly News   |  April 22, 2013

Two lives intersect at Boston Marathon, forming strong bond

Ron Brassard and Rob Wheeler may have been strangers just a week ago, but they became close friends after Wheeler took the shirt off his back and wrapped it around Brassard’s injured leg to help stop the bleeding. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

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>>> we leave you tonight with a story from that awful moment a week ago today in boston . how the lives of two men specifically, a father from new hampshire, a student at a massachusetts college, intersected in a way neither man will ever forget. our anne thompson has the story tonight from boston .

>> reporter: ron brassard and rob wheeler were strangers a week ago.

>> look, he's trying to outfunny me.

>> reporter: terror made them fast friends. do you believe in fate?

>> i do now. i do today. you know, how can you not?

>> if you asked me monday morning i don't think i would have said yes, but absolutely.

>> reporter: it was 23-year-old rob wheeler who took the shirt off his back and wrapped it around 51-year-old ron brassard's severely injured leg.

>> when i looked down and saw what was happening there, at that moment i absolutely needed someone to help me. that someone was rob.

>> reporter: brassard stood near the finish line with his wife and daughter to cheer a friend. wheeler wasn't even supposed to run the race. a friend who couldn't make it gave the college senior his spot.

>> i hope i don't get banned from the boston marathon for this one.

>> reporter: fate slowed wheeler down. his knee locked up here along mile 16. he helped a woman who fell at mile 25, and he crossed the finish line just two minutes before the first bomb went off.

>> i didn't have a scratch on me. you don't think, can i help someone or shouldn't i? you're there, you do that.

>> reporter: his wife karen and daughter suffered shh is rap nel injuries. ron will keep his leg, but now the man who's always been the caretaker, needs care.

>> logically, i know there is too much pride. but it's been a difficult week for me. it's been a difficult week.

>> reporter: a radio station gave ron and his family red sox tickets for sunday's game. rob went in his place.

>> we are going to be on may 19 attending rob's graduation. we are part of each other's life now.

>> reporter: an unshakable bond forged by an act that shook the world. anne thompson , nbc news, boston .