'I couldn't get to her': SA man relives losing mother in massive apartment fire

17 percent of Jesse Wadley's body burned while trying to rescue mother

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - It's been one month since Jesse Wadley tried to save his mother from their burning unit at the Ashler Oaks complex on the Northwest Side, but the physical and emotional pain is still unbearable for him.

Wadley slowly peeled back burn garments to reveal scars that will never let him forget the night of Aug. 19.

"They gave me about a 35 percent chance of living," he said while looking down at his arms and hands, which are covered in burns.

The burns, which covers 17 percent of Wadley's body, don't compare to his emotional wounds.

"She was my best friend. We did everything together. I felt like she was my responsibility, and I couldn't, I couldn't get to her," Wadley said with tears welling.

Barbara Lowe, Wadley's mother, had a minor stroke in 2011, and Wadley and his roommate, Nick Cox, became her caretakers.

Around 7 p.m. the day of the fire, Wadley was outside the apartment they all shared. Cox and Lowe were inside.

"I heard some weird noises, opened the door and all the electricity went out. And there was a bunch of smoke but no fire. I could see her standing in her doorway. I was screaming, 'Mama.' I tried to run in, and I hit our marble table and fell. For that few seconds, I feel I got second- and third-degree burns."

Wadley said he began screaming to all the neighbors to get out. The neighbors told KSAT that Wadley's screams saved their lives.

It's hard for Wadley to focus on that, knowing he couldn't save everyone.

"Nick jumped out the window, and I think that's an issue for him too because he had to leave her inside," Wadley said.

He said Cox ended up hospitalized with severe smoke inhalation.

When firefighters broke Lowe's bedroom window, flames surged through the room.

"Of course, I start freaking out, because I knew then that she ..." Wadley said, trailing off.

It's hard to say out loud for him; it's even harder to comprehend. Still, he's trying to work through it with the help of so many supporters.  

"It's been amazing, the love that's been shown. The support has been amazing," Wadley said.

The support is desperately needed. Wadley's ID, car keys, clothes and almost everything else he owned were destroyed in the fire. He's sleeping on a friend's couch, applying for disability and trying to find an affordable therapist so he can work through his grief.

Wadley is staying hopeful, saying there are ways to heal.

"I know they're out there. I just have to find them," he said.

Wadley said Ashler Oaks apartment management has still not reached out to offer him alternate housing. He also said that the day after the fire, they placed a towing sticker on his car.

KSAT has tried to contact Ashler Oaks management several times and still has not received a response.

Copyright 2018 by KSAT - All rights reserved.