SURFSIDE, Fla. – Authorities have identified four of the five people whose bodies were found after the terrifying collapse of a 12-story beachfront condominium in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach. More than 150 others are missing as rescuers painstakingly search through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South. The Associated Press has been reporting brief descriptions of the victims.
The Miami-Dade Police Department said the dead include Stacie Dawn Fang, Manuel LaFont and Antonio and Gladys Lozano.
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, 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 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.”
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