Feb. 14, 2009 -- Paul Twaragowski was initially annoyed when his flight from New Orleans, La., to Newark, N.J., was delayed -- it meant he would not be able to make his connecting flight home to Buffalo, N.Y.
But when he arrived in Newark, the 23-year-old was surprised to see a deluge of missed phone calls and text messages on his phone. Some of the text messages simply read, "Paul?"
When he called a friend back, he got news that, he said, changed his life.
"He said, 'Paul, are you OK?' and I'm like, 'Yes, I'm at Newark, I'll be home in the morning. What's going on?'" Twaragowski recounted to ABC News. "He's like, 'We've all been worried sick about you. The flight... it crashed in Clarence. We thought it was your flight."
It was the flight Twaragowski was supposed to be on. All 49 people on board, people he would have been sharing arm rests with and bumping into on the way to the bathroom, were dead. The crash also claimed the life of one man on the ground.
"I was in complete shock. I couldn't believe it happened," Twaragowski told ABC News. "Everything was just kind of going through my mind like crazy. More than anything, I just wanted to go home."
He immediately called his mother, who luckily had not seen the news.
"She had been sleeping. There was no satellite on the TV, so she had not known anything about that," he said.
For Twaragowski, his extraordinary serendipitous survival was a sign of fate.
"I am a complete believer in fate, so I am lookin' at it in a positive view, because I am a positive person," he said. "I believe for whatever reason, my name was on that ticket and that ticket number, 3407, was on that boarding pass, but for whatever reason, I wasn't meant to be on there. And I am just thankful and happy to be here."
Relatives, Strangers Mourn Plane Crash Victims
That happiness, though, is tempered by thoughts of those who suffered such great loss.
"I just wanted to say again my deepest sympathies and sorry for those involved in the tragedy, especially the family of those that were victims of the plane and everyone involved," he said.
Like many of the relatives of the victims, Twaragowski said he's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and good wishes he's received.
"I want to say how proud I am to be a citizen of Buffalo, [a] caring community, and how everyone comes together in good times and bad," he said.