3:23 PM PDT, June 28, 2021
Harrowing new details are emerging about the moment the building in Miami collapsed. Resident Cassie Stratton frantically called her husband at 1:30 a.m. and told him the building’s pool was collapsing.
“She said, ‘Honey, the pool’s caving in. The pool’s sinking in.’ And he’s like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And she said, ‘The pool. It’s sinking in the ground. The ground is shaking. Everything’s shaking.’ And then she screamed a death-curdling scream,” Stratton’s sister Ashley said to reporters.
Then, the phone went dead. Stratton, a model, is among the 151 residents still missing. Her chilling last words appear to confirm theories that the collapse began at ground level and not from the top-down.
Rescue workers are using everything from dogs to drones to find survivors who may be trapped alive in any number of small voids left beneath the rubble. But after five days, time is running out.
One-hundred twenty rescuers are working grueling 12-hour shifts. Families of the missing made a pilgrimage to the site Sunday. Relatives of missing student Nicole Langsfeld were heard screaming her name in a futile attempt to locate her. They also saw firsthand rescuers risking their lives.
“They witnessed a rescuer tumble 25 feet down the mound,” Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told reporters.
New details are emerging about structural problems in the building. A 2018 engineering report said there was abundant cracking observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls that would require $9 million in repairs.
But the attorney for the condo board says the report is not unusual.
“There’s no alarm bells ringing in that report,” Donna DiMaggio Berger told Inside Edition. “Concrete deterioration, rebar erosion, spalling and pitting — these are fairly standard problems in coastal barrier properties. So there’s nothing in there that is red flagged, underlined, that warns of any sort of hazardous condition or of imminent collapse.”
In the wake of the collapse, several residents are evacuating an identical building nearby.
“We may have some of the same defects that existed in the building that collapsed,” neighbor Philip Zyne said. “But of course, we don’t know that until we get a full structural engineer to go in there and make an evaluation.”
Meanwhile, the harrowing experiences of residents who did manage to escape are also emerging.
“If I’m one more apartment closer to the ocean, I’m dead,” said Steve Rosenthal. He lived on the seventh floor and was plucked from his balcony by a firefighter on a cherry picker. He says he waited for an hour and half for fire and rescue not knowing if the building was going to collapse.