SURFSIDE, Fla. – It’s been nearly one week since the catastrophic partial collapse of Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, where now 16 victims are confirmed dead and over 140 remain unaccounted for.
Despite Wednesday morning’s eerie sight of dump trucks carrying debris from the collapse site, there are now new stories surfacing of miraculous survival.
One of those remarkable stories of survival is of Champlain Towers South resident Iliana Monteagudo of Unit 611, who woke up that horrific night to the sound of cracking.
“Something inside of me said, ‘Run, because this building will collapse,’” she explained.
Monteagudo says she was sleeping in her sixth-floor unit at around 1:30 a.m., early Thursday morning when she suddenly woke up and found a crack growing along her living room wall.
Fearing the worst, she grabbed a few items and ran for the elevator. Instead, she ran down the stairs.
“And I started going down fast, and I feel crack, crack, crack… and I start to scream, ‘Come on, God. I want to see my kids. I want to see my grandson. Don’t let me die in this condition please. Help me — I want to live.’”
Monteagudo made it to safety seconds before the condo came crashing down.
“Three seconds separated me from life to death. Three seconds,” she explained how just how lucky she is.
It was also another close call for one of her neighbors, Erick de Moura, who was sleeping at his girlfriend’s home five minutes away instead of at his apartment in Champlain Towers South.
De Moura, who usually spends weeknights at his own place, had just finished watching a soccer match with friends and his girlfriend, Fernanda Figueiredo, at her house.
When he tried to leave, Figueiredo urged him to stay.
“She said to me, ‘When do we have a Wednesday night, just the two of us?’”
De Moura says there’s no doubt that last-second change saved his life.
“I would be dead. Dead. My unit’s gone. Totally gone,” he explained. “It’s [unit] 1004, and in that line, no one made it out alive — yet.”