AKRON, Ohio (NBC News) – A hankering for a Hot Pocket may have saved his life.
When a twin-engine charter jet slammed into an Akron, Ohio, apartment complex on Tuesday, Jason Bartley’s building took the brunt of the devastation.
As investigators continued Thursday to determine the cause of the fiery crash and identify the remains of the nine people killed on board, Bartley was left to count his blessings.
“Really, I guess it was dumb luck,” Bartley told NBC News on Thursday.
The 38-year-old factory worker is usually home just before 3 p.m., when the accident occurred. He doesn’t start his shift until an hour later, he said.
But just before 2:15 p.m., after spending time on his computer trying to book a holiday vacation, he realized he had time to run errands and go to the bank. After that, he said, he didn’t go home right away. He headed for the Dollar General to buy a pizza Hot Pocket for dinner, and another Hot Pocket for breakfast.
About six minutes after the plane crashed, Bartley drove up to his normally quiet, residential neighborhood. Thick smoke and orange flames filled the sky. His initial thought: “I left something on and my apartment caught fire.”
Authorities told reporters Wednesday that no one was home at the four-unit building at the time.
“My apartment was the one that took the direct force hit,” Bartley said.
He added that his next-door neighbor is also usually home during the day, but she happened to be out because she took her dog to the pet store.
A friend set up a GoFundMe account to help Bartley, who said that while his landlord has insurance, he doesn’t have renter’s insurance. All his personal belongings are presumably lost.
“All I have is my car and the outfit I was wearing,” he said.
In the meantime, he’s relying on the kindness of family and friends to help house him. Twelve families have been displaced by the tragedy, officials said.
Bartley said that first day of the accident left him in a fog — and now he realizes he’s lucky to be alive.
“It’s pretty devastating,” he said. “From the pictures I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s anything recognizable left.”