A resident of the collapsed 12-story condo building in Surfside, Florida, claims he is only alive because his girlfriend insisted on his staying at her apartment on the night of the disaster.
Erick de Moura stated that he was "right at the door" of Fernanda Figueiredo's house and about to leave last Wednesday evening when "for some reason she just asked me to stay because one of her kids wasn't home, so we were going to have a little date."
“Normally, on a Wednesday, we don’t have that opportunity to spend time together,” de Moura said on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday.
De Moura, from Brazil, initially resisted the idea, stating that he "wanted to take a shower and sleep comfortably" at his own apartment on the 10th floor of Champlain Towers South, which he had rented for three years.
His clothes were soaked from retrieving a soccer ball from a canal, which had become submerged after the couple and their friends had watched Brazil's Copa America game against Colombia. He also had a personal training appointment in the morning.
“But she insisted on me staying,” de Moura explained.
Eventually, he gave in.
De Moura awoke at 5.30 a.m. to a series of notifications on his phone, as well as a message from Rochelle, a building supervisor, asking if he was okay.
She informed him that the tower had collapsed and sent him a photograph of the wreckage.
“So you're half awake, half asleep, and someone tells you your house has collapsed, a building in Miami, and you just can't believe it,” De Moura explained.
“I’m from Brazil, and it happens every now and then, so it wouldn’t be such a surprise,” he said, “but here, we brag about the law and how America is supposed to be fair, and in an area like this... how could you imagine something like this happening?”
Figueiredo speculated, "He could be there."
As the search for survivors in the wreckage enters its seventh day, at least 12 people have been confirmed dead and 149 remain unaccounted for.