SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - Crews have rescued a teenage boy who was trapped in the rubble of a condominium that had partially collapsed in Surfside.
7News cameras captured rescue crews helping a boy, later identified as Jonah Handler, out from the rubble. It also showed them rescuing an older man from the side of the building that did not collapse.
Nicholas Balboa was in the area at the time and heard Handler’s cries for help. He explained what he saw while trying to rescue the boy.
“I saw an arm sticking out of the wreckage, and he was screaming, ‘Can you see me?'” Balboa said. “We started to climb up to him to try and see if we could get him free, but it was too heavy, too much rebar, stuff like that, so it was going to take quite a bit of an effort to get him out. He was just screaming, ‘Don’t leave me, don’t leave me.'”
Handler attends Monsignor Edward Pace High School and plays for the school’s junior varsity baseball team. He suffered a few broken bones.
“There was a bed frame and a mattress that was laying above him, so I can only assume that might have been his bed, judging by the size of the mattress,” Balboa said. “We got fire and police over there, so I was able to signal a police officer using the flashlight of my phone, and so the police officer came over. He got up to him.”
Handler’s mother was also pulled from the rubble, but she later died from her injuries.
Another good Samaritan explained over the phone how he helped get rescue crews to help Handler.
“I heard a voice yelling, and I decided that I’m going to try and get closer and see if maybe I can see where he’s at. Finally, I got close enough to hear him,” said the man. “He just stuck his hand up, the little boy, sticking his hand up through the debris, and I could see his hand and his fingers wiggling. There weren’t any firefighters or police officers nearby, and we felt like we needed to do something so we took it upon ourselves to try and get there and locate him. Once we were able to locate him, I took my phone and began to flash my light to try and signal somebody to come over.”
The good Samaritan said a police officer came to the area and brought fire rescuers to help, as well. He said Handler’s mother was trapped as well, but he could not see the woman.
“He’s a guardian angel. That’s all I can say given that he came out unscathed,” Balboa said.
According to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, 99 people remain unaccounted for hours after the collapse, but 102 people have been accounted for so far.
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