SURFSIDE, Fla. – Erick de Moura knows he’s one of the lucky ones.
For the past two years, he has lived on the 10th floor at the Champlain Towers South, in the same part of the building that collapsed early Thursday morning.
On Wednesday night, he played soccer and then went to his girlfriend’s place, where they had friends over to watch the Brazil-Colombia Copa América match.
When the night was coming to a close and de Moura started to leave, his girlfriend Fernanda Figueiredo told him to stay.
“She said to me, ‘When do we have a Wednesday night just the two of us?’” de Moura recalled in an interview with ABC World News Tonight.
“I said, ‘You stay with me,’” Figueiredo remembered. “It was so unusual because I knew he had a lot of things to do the next morning.”
De Moura decided to stay and set his phone’s alarm for 5:30 a.m. to make sure he’d be up early enough to get back and get to the appointments he needed to.
But when his phone went off Thursday morning, he saw it was loaded with notifications and messages from friends, asking if he was OK.
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One of the messages was from a woman who worked at the building, so he called her to ask what was going on.
“I was half awake, half asleep. I said, ‘What do you mean?’” de Moura said. “She said, ‘The building collapsed.’ ‘What do you mean the building collapsed?’ She said, ‘People are dead.’”
Shocked, he woke Figueiredo and told her what was going on.
“I would be dead. Dead,” de Moura says now. “My unit’s gone. Totally gone. It’s 1004 and in that line, no one made it out alive yet.”
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He says he now sees life differently and believes he was saved by a simple series of events.
“Events that were not controlled by me,” de Moura said. “We don’t control anything and I know that more than ever.”