Home Posts An Argentine Family Is Among Those Who Have Gone Missing Following The Collapse Of A Florida Condo.
An Argentine Family Is Among Those Who Have Gone Missing Following The Collapse Of A Florida Condo.
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An Argentine Family Is Among Those Who Have Gone Missing Following The Collapse Of A Florida Condo.


SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities said Monday that the remains of 11 people were discovered after the collapse of a 12-story beachfront condominium building in Florida. The Associated Press has been providing brief descriptions of the dead and missing.

The names and ages of three men who died in the collapse were released late Monday by Miami-Dade police, who said the body of Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, was discovered on Saturday but only identified on Monday, and Michael David Altman, 50, and Frankie Kleiman, 55, who had recently married, were discovered on Monday.

Late Sunday, police identified the bodies of Leon and Christina Oliwkowicz, an elderly Venezuelan couple with ties to Jewish communities in Florida and Chicago, as well as the bodies of Luis Bermudez, a young man with muscular dystrophy, and his mother, Ana Ortiz, both of Puerto Rico.

As rescuers search through the rubble of Champlain Towers South, authorities say 150 people are still missing, including Linda March, whose penthouse apartment was ripped apart, leaving her office chair and a set of bunkbeds next to the abyss.

THE FAMILY CATTAROSSI

Argentine Graciela Cattarossi is a cherished mother and friend who works as an independent photographer for hotels, magazines, banks, and airlines from around the world, according to Kathryn Rooney Vera, a friend who has known Cattarossi since 2008.

Stella, her 7-year-old daughter, is the most important person in her life.

Cattarossi, a single mother, lived in Champlain Towers South with Stella and her own parents, Graciela and Gino Cattarossi, who went missing Monday, as did Cattarossi's sister, Andrea, an architect in Pilar, Argentina, who was visiting.

Vera described Cattarossi as a "very hard worker, a beautiful person, and beloved by everyone."

On Wednesday night, just hours before the building collapsed, Cattarossi and Vera were exchanging text messages. The photographer took professional photos of Vera's fourth pregnancy years ago and gave them to her as a gift to celebrate what they thought would be Vera's final child.

“She was overjoyed to hear I was pregnant again,” Vera explained, adding, “but we are devastated by what happened.”

Graciela Cattarossi has lived in Miami for decades, according to Vera.

ANA ORTIZ and LUIS BERMUDEZ are the names of Ana Ortiz and Luis Bermudez, respectively.

Luis Bermudez, 26, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had battled muscular dystrophy for years and relied on a wheelchair. He lived on the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South with his mother, Ana Ortiz, who was among the 11 people killed when the building collapsed on Thursday.

His father, Luis Bermudez, texted the Associated Press, saying, "My son is a hero." He also posted on Facebook, saying he couldn't believe he was gone.

“Now rest in peace and without any obstacles in heaven, my Luiyo,” he wrote, adding, “I will see you soon.”

On Monday, family members laid flowers in the ocean near the site of the building collapse in memory of Luis.

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Alex Garcia, the couple's close friend, told The Miami Herald that he had set them up on a blind date. Kleiman lived on the same floor as his brother Jay Kleiman, who was in town for a funeral, and their mother Nancy Kress Levin, who is still missing.

Ortiz was described as a woman who was dedicated to providing the best life for her son.

“She’s a rock star, and she’s also a super mom,” Garcia told the Herald.

CHRISTINA OLIWKOWICZ and LEON

According to Venezuelan journalist Shirley Varnagy, a close friend of their family, Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and his wife Cristina Beatriz de Oliwkowicz, 74, lived on the eighth floor of the condo tower for several years.

According to Rabbi Moshe Perlstein, dean of the Yeshivas Ohr Eliyahu-Lubavitch Mesivta, an Orthodox Jewish School in Chicago where one of their daughters, Leah Fouhal, works as an office manager, they had already sent their children to live in the United States from Venezuela, and then joined them as the economic and political crisis in their native country worsened.

Perlstein flew to Florida after the disaster to support Fouhal as she awaited word on her parents' fate, which was announced late Sunday by authorities.

“On Friday, she was there, standing a few blocks away, and smoke was coming from the (collapsed building), and she tells me, ‘I just hope I'll be able to bury my parents instead of their ashes...’ And then, thank God, she was able to bury her parents, not the ashes,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the Jewish people have known too many cases where we have buried ashes; we don’t want to bury people, but it’s better than burying ashes,” he said as he prepared for their funeral on Monday.

According to Perlstein, the couple was known for their generosity, having donated a valuable Torah scroll to the school three years ago in memory of Leon Oliwkowicz's parents.

“He was a person who was happy when he gave; he loved giving,” Perlstein said. “With his wife, they were very dedicated to their children, helping the children, doing anything they could for their children,” he said.

Other Venezuelans caught in the collapse included Moisés Rodán, 28; Andrés Levine, 27; and Luis Sadovnik, 28, who remains missing along with his Argentine wife, Nicole Langesfeld, according to Varnagy, though the parents of Rodán, Levine, and Sadovnik were able to travel to the United States following the disaster.

“Some didn’t have a visa, others had an expired passport, but with diplomatic cooperation, they were able to arrive,” Varnagy explained.

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LINDA MARCH is the name of a woman who lives in the United Kingdom

Linda March, who survived a COVID-19 infection and eagerly traded a cramped New York apartment for fresh air and ocean views, was among the missing, according to best friend Rochelle Laufer, and even purchased a bright pink bicycle to cruise around Miami on.

Laufer told The Associated Press on Sunday that March had rented Penthouse 4 and was using the second bedroom as her office.

The partial collapse of the 12-story condominium building on Thursday exposed the penthouse's interior, with bunk beds and an office chair still intact just inside the broken edge where the rest of the 12-story structure crumbled into a pile of debris.

Dawn Falco, another friend, said she had been on the phone with March until just two hours before the disaster, and she immediately began looking for information on her friend, who she said never leaves the house "without a smile."

“My heart is breaking as I see her new office chair next to the bunkbeds,” Falco said.

The 58-year-old attorney had lost her sister and mother to cancer in the previous decade, her father died a few years later, and she and her husband divorced, leaving her with no children.

“She would say to me, ‘I'm all alone. I don't have family,' and I would say, 'You're my sister, you don't have to be born sisters,' and I said, 'You always have me,'” Laufer said through tears.

March loved the ocean views but despised the constant noise from nearby construction and had decided to break her lease, according to Laufer. “She was looking for another apartment when this happened,” Laufer said sadly.

Laufer, on the other hand, had planned a visit to her friend this fall.

“I joked that when I visit, I'll take the top bunk,” she explained.

FAMILY PATEL

Vishal Patel, his wife Bhavna, and their one-year-old daughter, Bhavna Patel, are among those missing. Bhavna Patel is four months pregnant.

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Sarina Patel, Vishal Patel's niece, told KABC-TV that she spoke to her uncle on Father's Day, telling him that she had purchased a ticket to see the couple and meet their child. Since the building collapse, her family has tried texting and calling, but hasn't received a response, she said.

“We’re starting to prepare for the worst-case scenario, especially as the hours pass, but at the end of the day, our family is very hopeful,” she said, adding, “I just keep praying they found a pocket somewhere where they were able to seek shelter and are just waiting to be found.”

Sarina Patel stated that her aunt and uncle moved into the building two years ago, and that her family is desperate for answers.

“If they said they needed volunteers, I would jump on a plane and go help, anything to make it go faster,” she told KABC, adding that “miracles do happen.”

JUDY SPIEGEL's formal name is JUDY SPIEGEL, and

Rachel Spiegel is still waiting for word on her mother, 66-year-old Judy Spiegel, who lived for her family and would go to any length to show her love. Judy Spiegel had been swimming with her two granddaughters this month when one of them mentioned how much she wanted a specific Disney princess dress.

Rachel stated that the dress was sold out, but the adoring grandmother immediately began searching in several stores until she found it.

“She was the matriarch of our family, she was very thoughtful, she cared about the details,” a tearful Rachel told The Associated Press.

Judy was a terrible cook, her daughter joked, but whenever anyone came to the house, she knew everyone's favorite foods and quirks and made sure everything was perfectly arranged; she never went a night without her beloved Ben and Jerry's chocolate ice cream, her daughter said.

She was also an outspoken proponent of Holocaust education.

“My mother is a wonderful person with a wonderful heart, and we must find her.”

ELAINE SABINO's formal name is Elaine Sabino, and she

Elaine Sabino, 70, was described by a friend as treating others with the same care and kindness she demonstrated as a flight attendant for US Airways and JetBlue.

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“The main thing people know about Elaine is that she’s always there to help you with whatever you’re doing,” her friend Shelly Angle told the Miami Herald. “She was the ultimate hostess, on the plane, everywhere.”

Sabino, who was in a 12th-floor penthouse when the structure collapsed, is still missing.

Sabino graduated from the University of Florida, where she was a baton twirler on the Gatorette team, and later taught and judged national competitions.

Her brother-in-law, Douglas Berdeaux, told The Washington Post that she had been complaining about construction on the roof of the condo building, but no one knows what caused the building to collapse.

“She expressed concern that the ceiling might collapse on top of her bed,” he explained.

MARIA OBIAS BONNEFOY and CLAUDIO

The worried daughters of a Chilean man and his wife who lived on the 10th floor of Champlain Towers South arrived at the scene, their anger growing as they learned more about the building's problems prior to its collapse.

Sisters Anne Marie and Pascale Bonnefoy said their father, Claudio Bonnefoy, and his Filipino-American wife, Maria Obias Bonnefoy, had been spending little time in the apartment and would not have been among the missing if it hadn't been for the pandemic.

Bonnefoy, an 85-year-old lawyer, is the second cousin of former Chilean President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and both he and his wife worked for international organizations, according to their statements.

“We are still processing everything, but it is starting to irritate me because reports from years ago reporting serious structural damage to the building are slowly becoming known,” Pascale Bonnefoy said. “Notifications that were ignored, or even that the building was built on wetlands, with sand, and that the salt began to corrode the iron.”

AUGUSTINE RICHARD

Richard Augustine, 77, was only a few hours away from boarding a flight to Chicago, where his daughter, Debbie Hill, was waiting for him at the airport.

Instead, she watched video of the condo collapse, where she could see her father's upper-floor unit plummet, then vanish in a cloud of dust.

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“That was pretty scary to watch,” she told Chicago’s ABC7, adding, “I tried to call him right away, and his phone went straight to voicemail.”

Augustine had just returned from a visit with his son in California, and had gone back to his Florida home to repack for his weekend visit with his daughter.

Augustine was raised in the Chicago area and lived in the suburbs before relocating to Florida, where he worked in the air freight industry and planned to retire in the fall.

Hill told FOX32 in Chicago that her father shared an apartment with a roommate who was also missing.

THE MORA FAMILY is an abbreviation for "The Mora Family."

When the building collapsed, Juan Mora Jr., who works for Morton Salt in Chicago, was staying with his parents, Juan and Ana Mora.

Immigrants from Cuba and devout Catholics, they took their family on missionary trips to the Caribbean to build churches and bridges, said Ana's close friend Jeanne Ugarte, and later became like second parents to Juan Jr.'s friends in Chicago, where their son manages East Coast distribution for Morton Salt's road salt business, said his friend Matthew Kaade.

When the Moras came to visit, they would take all of Juan Jr.‘s friends out to dinner, and in Florida, they introduced Kaade to Cuban coffee and food. “They were the kind of people who, even if someone said, ‘I’m not hungry,’ they would just keep ordering food to make sure you had a full belly,” he said.

Kaade, who graduated with Mora in 2011 from Loyala University Chicago, said he texted this month to say he was returning to Chicago in early August.

“I was super excited to get him back,” said Kaade, who described Juan Jr., an avid Chicago Cubs fan, as genuine and someone his friends could always count on to “be real and straight” with them.

Whatever happens, a group of friends will travel to Florida — hopefully to celebrate with Juan Jr. and his family if they are found, but certainly to celebrate him regardless, because that is what he would have wanted, according to Kaade.

“I keep saying your story is not over.... I have hope that it will be Juan continuing his own story, but no matter what, I’ll be there to be one of the many to help carry it on,” he said.

Click here for more information on the victims of the Surfside condo collapse.

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