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Tsarnaevs’ carjacking victim: Quick thinking saved lives

The bombing suspects stood near an SUV that had been carjacked. The victim had escaped earlier.

Andrew Kitzenberg/

The bombing suspects stood near an SUV that had been carjacked. The victim had escaped earlier.

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To the list of local heroes after the Boston Marathon bombings, we can now add a 26-year-old named Danny: a Chinese immigrant, engineer, and tech entrepreneur who had the misfortune to be carjacked by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — and the presence of mind to escape and contact police.

This week, Danny gave a riveting account of his experiences to Globe reporter Eric Moskowitz, explaining what happened after he pulled over his Mercedes SUV on Brighton Avenue to answer a text on the night of Thursday, April 18. A man who turned out to be Tamerlan approached him with a gun, got into the car, and ordered him to drive. And for the next 90 minutes, while Danny feared for his life, he was also smart and analytical. He guessed what might make the brothers sympathize with him: explaining that he was an immigrant, too; telling them that “Chinese are friendly to Muslims”; understating the size of his Mercedes lease payment. He engaged them in conversation about cars, girls, and the iPhone 5. All the while, he took mental notes on their actions and intentions, making sure to remember street signs and landmarks as they passed. And — in a move that saved his own life and sparked the manhunt that ended the murder spree — he determined a way to escape from the car once the brothers stopped for gas at a cash-only station in Cambridge. Perhaps his engineering skills were at work when he calculated the angle to run, so that Tamerlan wouldn’t be able to get a good shot.

Danny told the Globe that he doesn’t want fame, nor does he want to be seen as a hero. “I was trying to save myself,” he said. But he still deserves Boston’s praise and thanks, since his quick thinking and calm under pressure may well have prevented further tragedies.

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