Two of the three survivors in total emerged from the rubble following the June 24 collapse of a condominium complex in Surfside, Florida, which claimed the lives of 98 other people speaks for the first time on Thursday, detailing the horrors experienced by their family just 70 days ago.
Angela Gonzalez, 45, was watching a horror movie with her husband, Edgar, and their 16-year-old daughter, Deven, around 1.30am at night, she heard what she believed to be thunder. The three were together in the same bed in their condo on the ninth floor of the Champlain South towers.
"Who thinks a building is going to collapse on you? " Angela, now in a wheelchair, told NBC " Today in an interview with Deven and her other daughter, Taylor, who was with friends when the building collapsed. "It was just like an earthquake ... I just screamed," Run! Maybe just coming out of our room.
SURFSIDE CONDO COLLAPSE: BODY CAMERA VIDEO FROM INITIAL RESPONSE RELEASED
Deven fell five floors beforeec the building, and although his left leg was crushed and his femur broken, managed to cry out for help for the rescue teams. His mother, who passed out, landed on debris a few floors above and was also pulled from the wreckage. five days in a coma, waking up in the hospital on his birthday. Her husband was among the missing for almost two weeks and ultimately did not survive.
"I want to know why my husband lost his life. I want to know why they don 't have a father " said Angela. "I have my daughters, so I have something to look forward to. But I know that there are other mothers out there who have lost a husband or a child, and this is just not OK. It 's just not OK. "
" I couldn't say goodbye to him, "Deven, once a volleyball star in high school, still using crutches, said of her father. "But a lot of people have said that saying " goodnight "and " I 'love you "and " I'll see you tomorrow morning ' was much better than a goodbye because it 's like a ' see you later ', and I glad I got it. "
Taylor described how she rushed back home in the early morning of the collapse to find chaos, as rescuers on The scene initially said that anyone living on the same side of the 12-story building as her family was likely deceased, but she was later reunited with her sister and mother alive in the hospital.
"They told me that if they were on this side of the building there would be no survivors," Taylor said in the interview that aired Thursday. very diff icult night. "
The family lost all of their possessions, except for Edgar 's wedding ring, which was recovered from his body. His widow and their two daughters now take turns wearing the ring on a chain around their necks.
Search and rescue teams are looking for survivors in the Champlain Towers South condo, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Surfside, Florida ((Al Diaz / Miami Herald via AP))
"We havethis thing that every week each of us gets. I got it for the first week of school. It'll be Taylor's turn on Monday, then after Taylor it's mom and we all wear it, "Taylor said.
" Every week we share it, "a Angela added.
Family speaks out for the first time as federal investigators continue to assess the cause of the collapse. Last week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reported announced that he would conduct a five-part investigation led by Judith Mitrani-Reiser, deputy chief of
NIST also posted a video showing densely packed steel reinforcement as well as extensive corrosion where a column met the building foundation, WFOR-TV reported.
PendaMeanwhile, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, who is overseeing the collapse lawsuits, on Wednesday asked a court-appointed receiver to investigate a proposed swap. of land to allow for an on-site memorial to the victims for financial sustainability.
Many survivors and family members of the South Champlain Towers collapse object to a memorial in a nearby Miami Beach park. And many are uncomfortable with replacing this doomed building with a luxury structure on what they consider sacred land.
The proposal would work this way: a new Surfside Community Center containing a Champlain Memorial would be built on the site of the collapse. In return, the land on which the10-year-old community center would be sold to compensate survivors and family members of the victims.
A proposal to purchase the existing Champlain site for around $ 120 million is still pending. under negotiation, with other offers expected. A complicating factor is the potential for the Town of Surfside to enact a zoning change that could reduce the value of the property. ue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.