Condo Collapse Rescuers Heard Woman, Couldn't Save Her

'The wind was knocked out of our guys,' supervisor said
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2021 6:25 AM CDT
Hours After Collapse, Rescuers Tried in Vain to Reach Woman
A Miami-Dade Police helicopter flies over Champlain Towers South Condo after a wing of the multistory building collapsed, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.   (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

Miami-Dade firefighter Lt. Obed Frometa also serves as a chaplain, and he says the Surfside condo collapse is taking a heavy toll on rescuers. One such example: In the hours after the building collapsed last Thursday, rescuers were in contact for hours with a woman they were unable to save, one rescue worker tells Local 10. The woman, whose apartment had collapsed into the building's garage, "was pleading to be taken out of there," says the worker. She told rescue workers she was trapped between two beds and her parents were also in the unit. "We were continuously talking to her. ... 'Honey, we got you. We’re going to get to you,'" the worker recalls. They couldn't. She remained in contact for 10 or 11 hours post-collapse, but a wall of debris including concrete, rebar, and a dumpster blocked access to her.

Rescue workers were ordered to pull back after fires broke out. "We know she passed," a supervisor wrote in an email, expressing concern about the effect of the loss on the crew. "The wind was knocked out of our guys," the supervisor wrote. Adds Frometa, "We are human, after all. We’re not robots. We’re not machines. We feel it." A week after the collapse, 18 bodies have been recovered and more than 140 people are still unaccounted for. EMS physician Dr. Benjamin Abo says he has been collecting family photos found in the search. "Maybe I’m able to reunite a victim in this to give them a piece because they lost everything," he tells the AP. "But maybe I’m also able to give families some closure." He says he personally knows four people missing in the collapse. (Read more Florida condo collapse stories.)

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