Friends, family describe missing in US condo collapse

Friends, family describe missing in Florida condo collapse

The building was home to an international mix of foreign retirees, South American immigrants and Orthodox Jews

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida. Credit: AFP Photo

Families around the world remained stuck between waning hopes and widening fears Saturday, two days after the stunning collapse of a 12-storey condominium near Miami.

At least five people were killed and more than 150 people remained unaccounted for as rescuers continued to dig through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside.

The building was home to an international mix of foreign retirees, South American immigrants and Orthodox Jews, all with anxious loved ones across the globe.

The Miami-Dade Police Department identified for the first time four of the five deceased people late Saturday and the apartments where they were at the moment at the collapse. Their names were Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio, 83, and Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54.

Stacie Dawn Fang

Stacie Dawn Fang was with her son Jonah Handler when the building collapsed. They lived on the tenth floor of the condo building. The boy's small hand waved through the wreckage as a man who was out walking his dog hurried to the site, climbed through a pile of glass and rebar and promised to get help right away.

Rescuers helped the boy out from under a pile of cement and carried him away on a stretcher, taking him to a hospital.

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“There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie,” members of her family said in a statement. “Many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much-needed source of strength during this devastating time.”

As far as the boy's condition, a friend of the family, Lisa Mozloom told the AP “He will be fine. He's a miracle.”

Anotnio and Gladys Lozano

Antonio, 83, and Gladys Lozano, 79, lived on the ninth floor and were close to celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. Their son, Sergio Lozano, told WPLG-TV that he had dinner with his parents hours before the collapse.

The son lived in one of the towers of the complex and could see his parents' apartment across the way from his. That night, he said the heard a loud noise they thought could be a storm.

“The building is not there,” he said he told his wife. “My parents' apartment is not there. It's gone.”

Here are the stories of some of the missing:

Tzvi and Ingrid “Itty” Ainsworth

Tzvi and Ingrd “Itty” Ainsworth were celebrating the birth of two new grandchildren. Their son in South Africa recently had a baby and their son in Florida had a baby just days ago, their niece Chana Harrel told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The couple, who are in their 60s, lived in Australia for nearly two decades before returning to South Florida to be near their children. The couple had seven children and many live in South Florida, including their daughter just blocks away, she said.

“Every person she encountered, ever in her life, became her friend. Everyone was treated as equals,” Chana Wasserman wrote in a Mother's Day blog post to her mother Itty last year. “The guy at the laundromat, the guy working at the fruit market ... ”

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Ingrid struggled with chronic pain issues, but didn't let that darken her mood. She tried to focus on the positive, a sunny day, a long car ride that would seem tedious to many she reframed as a chance to talk and catch up, he daughter wrote.

“I know I will never be able to match my mother's pure enthusiasm for life but it's inspiring to watch,” Wasserman wrote.

Itty's mother, a Holocaust survivor living in Miami Beach, is battling cancer and doesn't know about the tragedy.

“They didn't tell her. She's not well,” Harrel. said. “It's absolutely horrific.”

Brad and Gary Cohen

Brothers Brad and Gary Cohen were both medical doctors who were active in their local communities. Brad Cohen was married to Soriya Cohen. She has spent hours outside the condo building, showing pictures of the siblings on her phone to anyone who will listen, desperate for updates.

“We need every bit of help we can get. This is the difference between life and death for so many people including possibly my husband if he's still alive,” she told CBS News 4.

Dr. Brad Cohen was a popular orthopedic surgeon who specialized in sports medicine. A woman who answered the phone at his office Friday said, with sadness in her voice, that his patients adored him. He did his residency at the State University of Stony Brook in New York and a fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, according to his website.

His brother, Dr. Gary Cohen was a physician at Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center in Alabama, and was also active in his local synagogue there.

“He spent many years providing care to our Veterans. He is part of the Tuscaloosa VAMC family and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this incredibly difficult time,” according to a statement from John Merkle, director of the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

David and Bonnie Epstein

David and Bonnie Epstein lived in unit 901 with their dog Chase, said Bonnie's cousin Joey Feldman.

David was a retired successful real estate investor who loved to jet ski and kite surf. The couple have a son who lives in New York.

Feldman said the family is very small.

“Bonnie was like my sister growing up,” said Feldman, who lives in Los Angeles. “She took me to my first concert.”

He said he is devastated but is praying for a miracle.

“I am holding out hope,” he said. “I came into work to get my mind off of it. But no sleep.”

Hilda Noriega

Hilda Noriega had called Champlain Towers home for more than 20 years. But six years after her husband died, the 92-year-old was ready to leave.

“We were going to move her into our home and her condo was up for sale,” said Sally Noriega, her daughter-in-law.

Sally Noriega said her mother-in-law was extremely active and loved living so close to the ocean and to her friends. But, she said, “when you lose a spouse you want to be surrounded by family ... and she wanted to spend more time with her family and grandchildren.”

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