SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - From a teen rescued from the rubble to survivors pleading for help from their balconies, 7News got a new view of the night of the condo collapse.
Never before seen video showed the gut-wrenching moments immediately after a wing of Champlain Towers’ south building came down.
On his drive home through an uncharacteristically hazy Surfside one week ago, David Araujo first figured what he saw was fog, but he knew better.
“I was like, there’s no way,” he said. “In Miami, at this hour, with this weather, there’s something going on.”
He turned left to see what was wrong.
“It looked like an explosion had just happened,” he said. “Complete shock, started crying, had to tell myself a couple of times, like, ‘This is not a movie. This is real.'”
He saw a building in ruins and people trapped, helpless.
“There’s a lady in the balcony screaming,” he said.
From their terraces, residents yelled for help to those below, who hollered back.
“Screaming to the lady through the balcony, ‘Come down through the stairs, come down through the stairs,'” Araujo said. “Then the lady said, ‘There’s no stairs, there’s nothing. I’m stuck in here!”
“I can’t! There’s no stairs!” she yelled.
Those on balconies were eventually saved, as were some from the rubble.
“‘Help me! Help me! Help me! Please don’t leave me here,'” Araujo said he heard.
He said he heard the cries of a young boy.
“He’s a kid,” one witness said.
Then he and others spotted him, trapped.
Seconds later, he said, he watched first responders pull 15-year-old Jonah Handler from the rubble.
Tragically, his mother, 54-year-old Stacie Fang, who was also rescued, did not survive.
She died in the hospital.
The young boy is now out of the hospital, recovering.
“Oh, my God,” Araujo said. “There’s hundreds of people there. People were like, ‘Oh, I could’ve done this, I could’ve done that,’ but at the time, it was just so much happening.”
Araujo said since the collapse, it’s been hard to process what he saw because he continues to ask himself, “Could I have done more?”
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