In the hours following the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Florida last summer, a soft voice called for rescuers combing through the remains of the beachfront condo.
Search team members said they first heard calls for help coming from the rubble around 6:30 a.m., shortly after the 12-story apartment building collapsed in Surfside, a neighborhood quiet outside Miami Beach around 1 a.m. June 24. A total of 55 units in the 136-unit building were destroyed and a total of 89 people died in the tragedy.
Among those who died was Theresa Velasquez, 36, who officials now believe was the source of the screams from the tower’s debris. The 36-year-old entertainment industry executive, who lived in Los Angeles, was visiting family when the Champlain Towers collapsed.
The revelation was made in an 11-page memo released Tuesday by the Miami-Dade Fire Department, which noted that although Velasquez survived the initial collapse, crews were unable to reach her before her dead.
His father – Julio Cesar Velasquez, 67, and his wife, Angela Maria, 60 – also died in the tragedy, according to CBS Miami. They lived in unit 304.
The firefighters’ findings contrast with an earlier report by USA Today, which identified the victim as Valeria Barth – a 14-year-old who was in the unit directly below the Velasquez family.
In the April 25 memo, Deputy Fire Chief Raied Jadallah wrote that the department’s identification is based on both “testimonial and physical evidence.”
Jadallah and his team at the time denied hearing a voice from the fallen condominium tower, but eventually acknowledged that rescue teams had heard the muffled calls for help coming from behind a thick concrete slab that slid down. was crushed in the underground car park.
“A rescue worker said when they asked the victim if she was with someone else, the female voice replied that she was visiting her parents (paraphrased),” the report said.
“This statement correlates with accounts from Theresa Velasquez’s family that Ms. Velasquez was visiting her parents from California and staying with them in apartment No. 304. Unlike Ms. Barth, who was accompanied by her parents who came of Colombia and occupied apartment n°204.