Angela Gonzalez lost her home when a 12-story oceanfront condo building suddenly collapsed in Miami — but she would not lose her daughter, too.
The brave mother was racing from the crumbling Champlain Towers in Surfside alongside her 16-year-old daughter, Deven, early Thursday morning, when the ninth floor gave way, CBS Miami reported. Together they fell four floors and Angela was badly injured, but she refused to leave the collapsing building alone.
Despite a broken pelvis, she pulled her daughter from the remains of the residence and continued to flee. In the end, they both made it out of the building alive, though Edgar Gonzalez, Angela’s husband and Deven’s dad, remained unaccounted for more than 24 hours later.
Both Deven and her mother were rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment, where Angela was in a medically induced coma and had a lacerated liver and injuries to her hip, pelvis and knees, the New York Times reported. Her daughter meanwhile, required surgery for a fractured leg and has since been well enough for a visit from her aunt, Adriana Gonzalez Chi, her father’s sister.
The teen, a volleyball player at Miami Senior High School, told Chi she remembered her 40-year-old mother grabbing her arm to flee and then nothing else
“She lost consciousness and was under some rubble, and was banging on metal for them to hear her,” Chi said of her niece. “And her mom must have been nearby.”
Chi told The Times she previously expressed concern about the condo building to her brother in the past — in part because of frequent complaints about leaks and mold.
“About a month ago I was standing on the balcony and saying, ‘This is not safe,’” she said. “I looked at my niece and said, ‘If you feel the building tremble, run.’”
At least four people were killed and 159 others were unaccounted for after the sudden collapse of the Surfside towers early Thursday morning. A massive search and rescue operation is expected to drag on for days both above and below ground, with trained dogs and sonar to help find anyone who may still be alive.
Earlier Thursday, first responders pulled a boy from the rubble after they spotted his wiggling fingers emerge through the wreckage.
More than 50 units were affected by the collapse, some of them left entirely exposed, like the inside of a doll house. Images and video from the scene show rugs and air conditioning units hanging from the remains of the building. Picture frames and beds remained intact inside some of the residences, fully exposed to public view after the walls of the building crumbled.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County said the building, previously the subject of safety concerns, was home to a mix of retirees and well-off professionals with young families.
Some construction was completed there recently, and according to a research paper published last year, the structure, erected on reclaimed wetlands, has been sinking since the 1990s.