SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - Several Surfside residents said they feel lucky to be alive, days after they managed to escape from the Champlain Towers’ South condominium building as it crumbled to the ground.
Speaking with 7News on Sunday, Moshe Candiotti shared what he described as a near death experience.
“You don’t appreciate life until you feel the fear of death,” he said.
Candiotti said he woke up to find the walls of his fourth floor unit collapsing, early Thursday morning.
“When the door that I was trying to open jammed, ’cause of all the weight of the concrete or vibration, I had to push it with all my force,” he said, “and when it opened, it was already the fire department that was helping me to escape.”
Candiotti said he now clings even tighter to his faith.
He’s not the only one with a story of survival. Albert Aguero described the moment when he realized what was happening.
“At that moment was when it really hit me that we’re racing against time to get to the bottom,” he said.
Aguero first spoke with 7News on Friday, a day after he and his family barely escaped from the building. On Sunday, his wife and children shared their accounts of those frightening moments.
“After seeing the walls, and how badly and violently they swayed, I honestly don’t know how it didn’t come down when we were startled, basically, out of our sleep,” said Aguero’s wife.
The Agueros said they had no choice but to race through the darkness, from their apartment to the stairwell.
“All I was thinking was, ‘We need to get out of here before this building completely comes down on us,'” said Aguero’s wife.
The family said they stopped on the third floor to save a neighbor in her 80s.
“I tried to help her get out as quickly as possible, because if she doesn’t get out, we don’t get out,” said Aguero’s son.
Speaking through a translator, resident Fabiano Yuseff said his 10th floor unit was destroyed.
Yuseff said that if it hadn’t been for spending time with his children, he may have been crushed in the rubble.
“I’m alive because of a miracle of God, because of my wife recovering from her surgery, because of a call from my son,” he said, “and because of my friend insisting that I stay with my family instead of going home.”
Those who have missing loved ones should visit the Family Reunification Center, located at 9301 Collins Ave., or call 305-614-1819.
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