Stunned tourists film Miami condo seconds after it collapsed

‘They died, they all died’: Sobbing tourist films Miami condo seconds after it collapsed as resident is heard calling for help

  • The video was taken by Adriana Sarmiento and Roberto Castillero, who were staying at a nearby hotel when the Surfside, Florida condo went down 
  • Video they took on the street shows rubble from the collapsed portion of the condo everywhere, as debris flies in the air 
  • A man can be heard yelling that they needed to get the firetruck’s attention while Sarmiento sobbed in Spanish, ‘They died, they all died’ 
  • Sarmiento claims she tried to wave residents to evacuate, but they couldn’t understand what she was trying to say 
  • It comes amid concerns from a structural engineer that the swimming pool deck may have caved in first and brought down the rest of the building with it
  • At least 18 people were killed and 145 remain missing after the apartment block collapsed on June 24, a type of disaster unheard of in the United States 
  • On Tuesday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would ask a grand jury to investigate the collapse 

Shocking new video filmed by a sobbing tourist shows the horrifying aftermath of the condo collapse in Miami last week.

The video was taken by Adriana Sarmiento and Roberto Castillero, who were staying at a nearby hotel when the condo went down.

They began recording after hearing a loud crash from the hotel pool deck, leading their own building to shaking.

Video they took on the street shows rubble from the collapsed portion of the condo everywhere, as debris flies in the air.

A man can be heard yelling that they needed to get the firetruck’s attention while Sarmiento sobbed in Spanish, ‘They died, they all died.’

The couple were covered in dust and suffered some bruises in the incident. 

Scroll down for video 

New video taken by a tourist shows the shocking damage caused by the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida

Rubble could be strewn all over the place as someone called for help


The building can be seen partially collapsed in the tourist’s video, taken from the ground

Sarmiento claims she tried to wave residents to evacuate, but they couldn’t understand what she was trying to say. 

‘I never thought that it really was gonna collapse,’ Castillero told CNN. ‘In America, never that happen before … I told my wife, “Don’t worry about it, it’s not gonna collapse.”‘

Sarmiento says it’s been very difficult to think of all of those who lived in the condo who are now either dead or missing.

Alarming footage was also posted to TikTok by Sarmiento, who told Chicago news station WLS-TV that she was on vacation with her husband at the neighboring Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside Resort when she heard a noise and went to investigate.

The video was taken by Adriana Sarmiento and Roberto Castillero, who were staying at a nearby hotel when the condo went down

Video recorded seven minutes before the building collapsed shows water pouring down from the ceiling of the garage. It comes amid concerns from a structural engineer that the swimming pool deck may have caved in first and brought down the rest of the building with it, as corroborated by witnesses who say that sections of the pool deck had collapsed into the garage below

The pool had been leaking into the ground beneath it, according to a 2018 report, and there was corroded rebar and concrete spalling in the underground parking lot that was next to it and directly beneath it, all of which experts say could have contributed to its collapse. Above shows how it crumbled – at ground level – into the underground parking level beneath it

The video was recorded at 1.18am on June 24 and zooms in on the entrance to the gated garage beneath the north side of Champlain Towers South – behind which water rains from the ceiling as if blasted from a fire hose. The building was reported to have crumbled at around 1.25am. 

It comes amid concerns from a structural engineer that the swimming pool deck may have caved in first and brought down the rest of the building with it, as corroborated by witnesses who say that sections of the pool deck had collapsed into the garage below. 

Allyn E. Kilsheimer, who is investigating the Champlain Towers South collapse for the town of Surfside, told The Washington Post that the pool theory – first described by the husband of a woman who is still missing and since verified by a second witness – is viable. 

‘There is a possibility that part of the pool [area] came down first and then dragged the middle of the building with it, and that made that collapse. And then once the middle of the building collapsed, number two, then the rest of the building didn’t know how to stand up and it fell down also, number three,’ Kilsheimer said.

An engineer in 2018 noted ‘major structural damage’ to the pool deck area, in which the waterproofing was failing, and the underground parking garage which was riddled with ‘abundant’ cracking. 

In Sarmiento’s footage of the garage, water is seen flowing rapidly from the roof as if from a source of significant pressure. She said she tried to notify residents about the danger but they thought she was exaggerating because ‘things like that don’t happen in America.’ Just minutes later the building fell.

At least 18 people were killed and 145 remain missing after the apartment block collapsed on June 24, a type of disaster unheard of in the United States.  

Experts who have viewed video of the collapse are unanimous in their belief that the collapse started with a problem at the bottom of the building – either in the parking garage or on the pool deck. 

There are some theories that the eroded columns in the parking garage may have also been partially to blame. 

Others say though that the columns were in tact and that once the building started to implode. 

Engineers are now looking at whether or not the pool deck that was next to the collapsed portion collapsed first, bringing the building in on itself from the center. The shaded red portion is the part of the building that fell first. The yellow section fell second and the purple section fell last. Engineers say that there was nothing structurally wrong with the purple structure but that the pull from the rest of the building dragged it down 

Some say there is evidence of punching shear failure which is when the slabs above a column fail and the column punches through it. 

They think as much because some of the collapsed columns remain in place. 

That would not explain the collapse or the cause of it, but paints a picture of how the building might have fallen.

Other engineers also say there had to have been one or a combination of other contributing factors, like corroded rebar – which was identified in the pool equipment room, beneath the pool and next to the garage, 36 hours before it collapsed. 

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would ask a grand jury to investigate the collapse. 

‘My office has a long tradition of presenting more than just criminal cases to the Grand Jury. I plan to request that our Grand Jury look at what steps we can take to safeguard our residents without jeopardizing any scientific, public safety, or potential criminal investigations,’ she added. 

Three residents have filed lawsuits against the seven-person condo board, blaming them for not acting sooner to repair the building after a 2018 report by an engineer found major errors and concrete spalling. 

The underground parking garage ran beneath the entire building but not all of it collapsed. The spot that seems to have buckled is where leaking water was identified in the 2018 report 

The board said it told residents about the damage and was in the process of fixing it. 

In April, the board sent a letter to residents asking them to pay for the $15.5million of repairs that were needed. They were given the option of paying in installments over time or up front, with total payments ranging from $80,000 for one-bedroom owners to $336,000 for four-bedroom penthouse owners. 

In the letter, the board president said the damage was ‘accelerating’ and had become ‘significantly worse’ since the engineer first identified it in 2018. 

It was due to begin later this year but they hadn’t yet hired a crew to do the concrete work. 

THE MIAMI CONDO COLLAPSE VICTIMS IDENTIFIED SO FAR

54-year-old Stacie Fang

STACIE DAWN FANG

Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, was with her son Jonah Handler, a teenager, when the building collapsed. They lived on the tenth floor. The boy’s small hand waved through the wreckage as a man 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 to a hospital.

‘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.’

Asked about the boy’s condition, a family friend, Lisa Mozloom told the AP ‘He will be fine. He’s a miracle.’

MANUEL LAFONT

Manuel LaFont, 54

Manuel LaFont, 54, was a proud father, a baseball fan and a business consultant who lived on the building’s eighth floor. 

He had a 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter with his ex-wife Adriana LaFont, the Miami Herald reported.

Adriana asked her friends on Facebook to pray the rosary for Manny before his body was found. ‘So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart,’ she wrote.

LaFont, a Houston native, coached his son’s baseball team, the Astros, at North Shore Park, just a mile away from the Champlain. He was a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach. The parish’s school parents gathered Saturday afternoon to pray for LaFont and his neighbors who were still missing.

An alumnus of Sharpstown High School in Houston, LaFont had worked across Latin America and the Caribbean for a manufacturing firm, leading a division focusing on roadway safety that built crash cushions and moveable barriers, the Herald reported.

‘I got into this industry specifically because I don’t want to sell widgets. I want to help people. I want to do something good in this world,’ he said at an industry conference in 2016. ‘When I die, I want to say that my life meant something.’

ANTONIO AND GLADYS LOZANO

Antonio and Gladys Lozano

Antonio and Gladys Lozano lived on the ninth floor. The two had known each other over 60 years and would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary on July 21.

Their sons told WPLG-TV that the couple had joked neither wanted to die before the other, because neither wanted to live without the other. Their one solace, the brothers said, was that they were together when they died.

Authorities confirmed on Saturday that Antonio, 83, and Gladys, 79, were among the dead.

Sergio Lozano said he had dinner with his parents hours before the collapse. He 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.’

ANA ORTIZ, HER HUSBAND FRANK AND HER SON LUIZ 

Ana Ortiz, left, and her son Luis Bermudez and Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina (right) 

Luis Bermudez, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had battled with muscular dystrophy for years and used a wheelchair. The 26-year-old man lived with his mother Ana Ortiz on the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South.  

His father, also named Luis Bermudez, texted the AP saying ‘my son is a hero.’ He also wrote on Facebook that he could not believe he’s gone.

‘Now rest in peace and without any obstacles in heaven,’ he wrote. ‘I will see you soon my Luiyo.’

Ortiz, 46, had just gotten married with Frankie Kleiman. Alex Garcia, the couple’s close friend, told The Miami Herald he had set them up on a blind date. Kleiman lived with his wife and stepson on the same floor as his brother Jay Kleiman, who was in town for a funeral, and their mother Nancy Kress Levin. The Kleimans and their mother are still missing.

50-year-old Frank Kleiman, left, was found on Monday. He was Ana’s husband

Ortiz was described as a woman who was committed to giving her son the best possible life.

‘She´s a rock star. And gorgeous,” Garcia told the Herald. “And on top of that a super mom.

FRANK KLEIMAN 

Kleiman, 50, was the husband of Ana Ortiz, whose body was found alongside that of her disabled son, Luiz, over the weekend. 

LEON AND CHRISTINA OLIWKOWICZ

Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina were also identified as victims of the tower collapse on Sunday evening 

The couple lived on the 8th floor of the condo tower for several years, according to Venezuelan journalist Shirley Varnagy, a close friend of their family.

They were among six Venezuelan natives caught in the building’s collapse. Still missing Monday were Moisés Rodán, 28; Andrés Levine, 27; Luis Sadovnik, 28, and his wife, Nicole Langesfeld, Varnagy said.

Varnagy said the Oliwkowicz’s daughter had been outside the building waiting for some information about their fate. Her husband answered their phone and asked to be left alone.

The couple’s daughter, Mrs. Leah Fouhal, works as a secretary at a Jewish school in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the couple donated a Torah in 2019 in a procession that included a vintage fire truck, music and a giant velvet and gold crown, according to COLlive.com, an Orthodox Jewish news outlet that covers Chabad-Lubavitch communities around the world.

Meanwhile, the parents of Rodán, Levine and Sadovnik live in Venezuela and traveled to the U.S. Friday. ‘Some did not have a visa, others had an expired passport, but with diplomatic collaboration they were able to arrive,’ Varnagy said.  

MARCOS JOSEPH GUARA & MICHAEL DAVID ALTMAN


The body of 52-year-old Marcus Joseph Guara was recovered on Saturday

Hilda Noriega  

Hilda Noriega (pictured) was named by her family Wednesday as the 12th confirmed victim of the tragedy 

Hilda Noriega, who lived in Apt. 602 in the 12-story tower, was the mother of North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega. 

She had only recently celebrated her 92nd birthday. 

Her body was discovered among the remains of the condo tower Tuesday.

Her family paid tribute to the ‘matriarch of the family’ in a statement Wednesday.  

Noriega’s son had traveled to the collapse site Thursday to look for his mother, who had only recently celebrated her 92nd birthday.

Among the rubble, the police chief found a birthday card a relative had given to Noriega at a brunch, reported Local10.    

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