Surfside condo collapse: Crew spoke to woman but couldn’t save her

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Rescue workers were in contact with a woman trapped in a lower level of the South Florida condominium that partially collapsed last week but, ultimately, were unable to reach her, a frustrating episode in an already tragic event.

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A fire rescue worker, who asked to remain anonymous, told WPLG that they heard a woman, whose unit had collapsed into the garage of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, pleading for help.

“Everybody that was there, that’s what we’re trying to do, get this lady out and comfort her,” the rescue worker told the television station. “She was asking for help and she was pleading to be taken out of there.

“We were continuously talking to her. ... ‘Honey, we got you. We’re going to get to you.’”

The man said the crews never abandoned their effort, but later learned that the woman had died.

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The rescue worker showed WPLG a photo of what prevented the crew from reaching the woman -- a dumpster, a metal rebar and a wall of concrete.

According to the television station, the worker never saw the woman but could hear her calling out.

“The first thing I remember is thumping on the wall,” the rescue worker told WPLG. “Then I remember her just talking, ‘I’m here, get me out. Get me out.’”

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It is not known who the woman was or whether she was one of the 18 people who have been removed from the rubble, the television station reported.

Miami-Dade Lt. Obed Frometa, of Florida Task Force 1, also serves as a chaplain. He is helping his colleagues cope with the daily losses. The deaths are not only affecting the families of the victims, but also the crews that are trying to save them.

These situations bring “a feeling of not only defeat, but it’s a feeling of loss,” Frometa told WPLG.

“We are human, after all. We’re not robots. We’re not machines. We feel it,” Frometa added. “We have team members that have firsthand friends that are potential victims of this, so it weighs on them and it weighs on us.”