The first deceased victim of the Miami condo collapse has been identified as 54-year-old Stacie Fang, whose teenage son was dramatically pulled out of the rubble in a rescue captured on video, according to authorities. Fang died on Thursday after the Champlain Towers South collapsed around 1:30 am on Thursday in Surfside, near Miami Beach.
Fang was also pulled out of the rubble on Friday by rescue workers and transported to hospital but succumbed to her injuries later in the day. Rescue crews are helping with the continuing search efforts as Surfside Town Manager Andy Hyatt told the Miami Heraldthat the town has "engaged a structural engineer to inspect other buildings in Surfside."
The Unlucky One
Fang was the mother of 15-year-old Jonah Handler who was rescued shortly after the apartment building collapse and the incredible moment was captured on video. Later in the day, Fang, who was among at 159 people missing following the collapse, was also rescued. She was taken to the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center but succumbed to her injuries.
Fang, a New York resident, is among at least four others who didn't survive the tragic building collapse. She died from blunt force injuries, said the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner. "There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie. The members of the Fang and Handler family would like to express our deepest appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy, compassion and support we have received," a statement from the family read.
"The many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time. On behalf of Stacie's son, Jonah, we ask you now to please respect our privacy to grieve and to try to help each other heal."
However, even before Fang was identified, officials had confirmed the death of a woman on Thursday night. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's office later confirmed that Fang died at 3:38 am on Thursday, hours after the 12-story building was reduced to rubble.
Fang's son Handler, a 10th grader at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, who was rescued by firefighters, was taken to hospital with broken bones. The young teen, was helped by witness Nicholas Balboa who was reportedly walking his dog when the building came down.
Balboa, who recounted seeing the boy's fingers wiffling before the rescue, told Fox News on Thursday that Handler was quite nervous. "He was saying, 'Don't leave me, don't leave me.' So I told him, 'We're right here. We won't leave you.' That's when I tried to signal police officers and firefighters to get over there," Balboa said.
However, he had no idea that his mom had died in the collapse. In fact, the family of Fang and her son had spent an entire day desperately searching for answers as to her whereabouts, till her name was revealed by the authorities.
Fang's sister Virginia Borges told the Washington Post on Thursday that Handler had been asking for his mother while he recovered in hospital. "He was rescued, but he has no idea what happened to his mother. Nobody has any idea what happened to her. It's like she just disappeared," she said, adding, "He wants to know what happened to his mother. We all want to know."
At a news conference on Friday night, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said there are currently four task force teams working on search and rescue as teams from Mexico and Israel arrived on Friday morning to help with the efforts. He did not give an exact number for how many personnel from Mexico and Israel had been sent.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said on Friday that crews heard sounds in the rubble overnight. He said: "We are listening for sounds, human sounds and tapping."