Jay Miller, a resident of the doomed condo building Surfside, Florida, took his annual trip to Philadelphia earlier than usual this year and was not home at the time of the collapse.
"Why did it happen that I wasn't there in my apartment?" Miller questioned in a recent interview with The Washington Post.
Last week's collapse left at least 11 confirmed dead, and some of Miller's friends are among the more than 150 people who remain missing.
A resident of the partly collapsed Florida condo building is now struggling with survivor's guilt after his earlier-than-usual trip to Philadelphia likely saved his life.
"Why did it happen that I wasn't there in my apartment?" Jay Miller questioned in an interview with The Washington Post. "That was the place I usually would have been. I wasn't there, and I made a decision to go away."
Miller, a retired college professor, purchased his third-floor condo at the doomed oceanfront Champlain Towers South in Surfside three years ago.
Miller has left the Sunshine State at the end of June for the past few years to spend part of the summer in Philadelphia where he also owns a home that he was preparing to sell, the news outlet reported.
But this year, Miller left for his annual Philadelphia trip earlier than usual - and he was thankfully out of his Surfside condo before a massive wing of the building suddenly came crashing down overnight last Thursday.
The disaster left at least 11 confirmed dead, and some of Miller's friends at the condo are among the more than 150 people who remain missing.
"It's sort of like, you lose a friend, somebody dies - it's a normal cycle of life," Miller told The Washington Post. "But when you've got all these people and you see people are dead and you should have been in there with them, and you weren't - that's kind of a really shocking thing for you and you think, 'By all rights, I should have been there.'"
Miller explained that every time sees news coverage of the collapse he gets a "pit in my stomach."
"It's just this gnawing in my stomach and that very rarely happens to me," he said.
Miller told the newspaper that he has put off selling his home in Philadelphia and will remain there for now, but he still has plans to return to Florida.
“I do think frequently about how lucky I am,” Miller said. “I don’t know if it’s going to make me change my life. But I know how the people died in there and I think I’m extraordinarily lucky that I happened to not be there.”
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