Fate Steps In; He Misses Flight 3407

Paul Twaragowski is lucky, and grateful to be alive.

He, his supervisor and a co-worker had just finished a demolition job and were returning to the Buffalo, N.Y. area Thursday night when destiny led them away from certain death.

They were supposed to be on Continental Connection Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J. to Buffalo, but their flight from New Orleans to Newark arrived late, and the ill-fated Flight 3407 had already departed.

It wound up crashing in Clarence, N.Y., outside Buffalo, killing all 49 on board and one person in the home it slammed into on the ground.

On The Early Show Saturday Edition, Twaragowski, 23, described in emotional, harrowing detail what it was like to get messages from friends frantically trying to reach him, knowing he was booked on Flight 3407.

He's still in shock, and heartbroken for the families of the victims.

"First and foremost," a shaken Twaragowski told co-anchor Erica Hill, "I just wanted to say my deepest sorrow and sympathy for the families and close friends of those who were on the plane. Also, everyone who was involved in this horrific tragedy. ... I'm standing here today ever so thankful, but I can't help but be thinking about those people right now. So, a lot of mixed feelings, and going through a lot of emotions right now."

He says that when he got to Newark, "I checked my phone. I had a ton of missed phone calls. More than anything, it was from my friend that was supposed to be picking me up, and then some text messages, and the text messages were asking me, 'Paul, are you OK? Where are you?' And I knew right from there that something wasn't right. And when I called, the first person I talked to, he goes, 'Paul, are you OK?' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm in Newark. I'm not gonna be home until the morning.' And that's when the news broke that he told me a plane had crashed in Clarence, and I didn't know the details about it."

Twaragowski spent the night at the airport with his fellow travelers, pieced things together, and realized the plane that had gone down was the one he would have been on.

"My supervisor, Dave, was talking to his wife. She had been talking to a woman from work that sets up our flights and she knew that we were being flown from Newark to Buffalo. ... (Paul) told me to pull out my boarding pass, check the number. And I read it to him. And he goes, '3407. That was our flight.' I can't forget that moment. Ever since then, that number has just been tattooed in my head."

He also expressed his gratitude to the first responders at the crash scene.