Son, roommate badly injured trying to save mother in deadly apartment fire

Heroic story of the attempt to rescue Barbara Lowe, who died Monday

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SAN ANTONIO – It's a story of love, sacrifice and eventually, loss.
When a fire destroyed part of the Ashler Oaks apartment complex on Parkdale Street near Wurzbach Road on Monday, very little information was released about Barbara Lowe, the 68-year-old woman, who was killed.

Now, the heroic story is surfacing of how Lowe's son and his roommate tried to save her. Those attempts left them with serious injuries.

"He always referred to her as his best friend. They had a very special relationship," said Vanessa Tate-Winn, Jesse Wadley's close friend.

Jesse Wadley lived with Lowe in a second-story apartment in the Ashler Oaks complex near the Medical Center.

He and his roommate, Nick Cox, helped take care of Lowe.

"How heroic. They both were trying to get to her, to do everything they could to get her out," Tate-Winn said.

Tate-Winn spoke to Jesse Wadley just two hours before a fire tore through his apartment.

"Jesse happened to be outside talking to a neighbor and the fire was just so fast. Nick was already inside, so that's where he sustained most of his injuries, was from the smoke inhalation. So while he was inside, he was trying to get to her, and Jesse was trying to get to an outside window, trying to get in that way," Tate-Winn said.

Tate-Winn said Jesse Wadley was able to get into the apartment.

"He sustained some burns on his knees and especially his hands, so I guess he was crawling because of the smoke," she said.

In the end, he was unable to save his mother, and firefighters said he had to jump out of the window. He was taken to the hospital with third-degree burns.

"To actually go in and see how bad it really was, it was tough," Tate-Winn said.

She visited Jesse Wadley at the U.S. Institute of Surgical Research, the burn center at Brooke Army Medical Center, where he's listed in serious condition.

Jesse Wadley went into surgery Wednesday for six hours. Tate-Winn said she heard it was successful.  

Cox was released from the hospital Wednesday but is still suffering from internal injuries from smoke inhalation.

Jesse Wadley and Cox are both focused on recovery, but there's another factor they'll have to deal with. Like many of their neighbors, their apartment was destroyed in the fire, and they've lost everything.

On Friday, KSAT will join together with the Burned Out Survivors' Fund to hold a phone bank fundraiser. All donations called in will go directly to the people affected by the fire.

The phone bank will be from noon to 7 p.m. The phone number to call will be released just before the phone bank starts.

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