Surfside victims: Who was Michael Altman? Sister slams 'douche bag journalists'
Debbie, Michael Altman's sister, posted pictures of the offending reporters, writing: 'They were zooming in on our faces as we grieved'
As search and rescue teams dig through the harrowing pile of concrete and rubble left in the aftermath of the Surfside, Miami condo collapse last week, three more missing residents have been identified as dead. Among the newly named victims of the partial collapse of the 12-storey building is a loving father, son, and uncle from Costa Rica, whose family slammed local journalists for not allowing them privacy to grieve at the memorial.
The South Florida condo called Champlain Towers South partially collapsed with 55 of its total 136 units collapsing within a matter of minutes at 1:30 AM on Thursday, June 24. In the wake of the tragedy, accusations of permit fraud and 'major structural damage' in the building's framework have also come to light. Residents of the sister towers have also evacuated fearing the same fate with officials unable to ascertain the safety of the buildings. Close to a week after the disaster that killed 11 and injured many more, rescue teams are still identifying some 150 missing residents of the building.
On June 28, they were able to recover the remains of Michael David Altman, whose older sister, son, and countless well-wishers had been urging well-wishers on social media to help them in their search for him.
Who was Michael Altman?
The deceased resident lived on the 1101 unit of Champlain Towers South and was in the building when the condo partially collapsed last week. For four days, Altman remained among the missing amidst the debris of the Florida building as his family fondly remembered him on social media. At the time, Altman's son Nicholas had shared his photo on Facebook, writing: "This is my dad who I love more than anything - Michael Altman. He was on the 11th floor of the Miami building that collapsed late last night. He’s missing right now. If you have any information, please let me know."
News of Altman's death was shared on Twitter by WSN-TV's Frank Guzman, who first tweeted, "So many unaccounted for after the building collapse in Surfside. This is one of them: Michael Altman. He was in his apartment, 1101, at the time. His family and loved ones are looking for him, they have checked hospitals and filed a missing persons report." He later retweeted the post with the follow up: "Sad update: Miami-Dade Police tonight identified Michael Altman as one of the deceased. RIP."
Sad update: Miami-Dade Police tonight identified Michael Altman as one of the deceased. RIP. https://t.co/AoHx2U0l1v— Frank Guzman (@fguzmanon7) June 29, 2021
Journalists at memorial
Altman's sister Debbie, who has been urging social media to help the family find their missing loved one, also shared a string of Facebook photos of the family with him, writing: "Our wonderful, adored Son, Daddy, Brother and Muncle." Debbie Altman, is believed to be the victim's older sister. Although she did not reveal anything about Altman's profession or his relationship status, she did hint that he is survived by more than one child.
In her Facebook post confirming the sad news of Altman's passing, Debbie wrote: "My brother’s body has been found. We finally have some peace. We will release details regarding the memorial once we have time to process everything. Please keep my parents, Michael’s boys and my kids in your prayers."
Debbie had also expressed anger against reporters shoving cameras at their faces and showing a lack of respect for the mourning families visiting the memorial for the victims. "My family was at the memorial and these douche bag journalists did not respect our need for privacy," Debbie wrote in a Facebook post of several photos of the alleged journalists. "They were zooming in on our faces as we grieved. Please circulate so that everyone can see what type of hunan beings they are. So f**king mad!!!" she added.
Adored by many
The information that Michael Altman was Costa Rican had been revealed by Canal 7 reporter Elias Alvarado, who shared a photo of the victim on Twitter along with a caption in Spanish, that roughly translates to: "Tonight the body of Costa Rican Michael Altman Stawski, 50, was found among the rubble of the apartment building that collapsed the previous Thursday, as confirmed by Miami-Dade police and family members."
Esta noche fue localizado el cuerpo del costarricense Michael Altman Stawski de 50 años, entre los escombros del edificio de apartamentos que se desplomó el jueves anterior, así lo confirmó la policía de Miami-Dade y familiares. pic.twitter.com/mpyWadekpL— Elías Alvarado (@eliasalvaradony) June 29, 2021
It is obvious Altman was popular among his friends groups too, as several people - cousins and well wishers alike had taken to social media to urge others in finding Altman safe. One such friend with the name Elisabeth Suess Oliva had tagged Altman's family in a photo of the victim and captioned the Facebook post: "Please share!!!!! Michael Altman 50 years old missing from Surfside tragedy. A loving son, brother, daddy, uncle and friend to so many. If you have any friends at Aventura hospital, Jackson Hospital, Mount sinai hospital that could identify him if he is brought there. Pls contact me, ty!"