SURFSIDE, Fla. A mother and daughter who paramedics said “should not be alive” after what they went through during the apartment tower collapse are on the long road to recovery, a relative said Friday.
But the man and father who lived with them remained among the missing after the crews this week moved their search and rescue efforts to a recovery operation.
Angela and Edgar Gonzalez were on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South with their daughter Deven, 16, when it collapsed on the morning of June 24th. Another daughter was not home at the time.
“In the middle of the night, my daughter woke up because she heard a strange noise, and when she woke up, the building shook,”
“She started screaming for them to get up and get out, and she just ran with her daughter, pulled her daughter by the arm when they came out the front door, they did not even walk five meters, and it fell down to one floor. downstairs, ”she said.
Angela and Deven were separated, and when Deven called for her mother, “Angela crawled over and put her body on top of my granddaughter, and they fell all the way down to the third floor again,” Gonzalez said.
She said paramedics and firefighters have visited them several times, telling them “they should not be alive” after what they went through.
Gonzalez said Angela’s pelvis was smashed and that she suffered a broken lung, spinal injuries and needed hip surgery.
“She was literally crushed and it’s just amazing that she’s sitting up in bed today,” she said.
Deven is going to a physical rehabilitation center and still needs a year or two to fully recover, she said.
Her granddaughter’s femur was broken and a piece of metal pierced her skull.
In addition to the physical trauma that Angela and Deven are exposed to, they and the rest of the family are struggling with the emotional pain that Edgar Gonzalez has been missing for the past 15 days and counting.
All they can do is wait, but they had a minister with them as they gathered with other family members to tell the devastating news that the search had moved to recovery mode.
Gonzalez said the family had lived in the building for about 15 years and would host large family gatherings there for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“I mean, it just freaks me out. I could have lost 25 family members, you know, if this had happened during the holidays, ”she said.
Gonzalez has lived in the Sextant Stays, where a hospitality company provides free temporary accommodation, food and other items to families and survivors of Sunny Isles Beach.
“It’s been great,” Gonzalez said. “It left me literally just to focus on them and go back and forth to the hospital.”
KC Holmes, an employee who has helped families on the Sextant Stays, said they have tried to give everyone “a safe place” to stay and make them feel welcome.
“I think what has been the hardest part is looking at the grief, the pain, the loss,” she said. “I pray with them.” In the midst of all the darkness, there was a ray of light: their family cat, Binx, was found alive and “without scratches on it,” Gonzalez said.
Friday, the death toll was 79. “This is a staggering and heartbreaking number that affects us all very deeply,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference.
Miami-Dade police said Friday that among the identified victims were Vishal Patel, 42, and his wife, Bhavna, 38. Their 1-year-old daughter, Aishani, is still missing. Relatives said Bhavna Patel was five months pregnant.
Gita Patel, Vishal’s aunt who has also stayed at Sextant Stays, said earlier this week that the family would focus on “keeping the good memories with us.”
These memories included Aishani’s recent birthday and finally meeting her after the pandemic had kept family members apart. The little girl was playing with the family members she met for the first time.
“She’s a beautiful baby,” Patel said. “We had really good times.”