Surfside collapse: Who's Stella Cattarossi? Firefighter's daughter, 7, pulled out of rubble
In a heartbreaking incident, a firefighter who had been assisting rescue efforts at the Surfside Miami Condo collapse site found his own daughter's body buried in the rubble. Seven-year-old Stella Cattarossi lived in the Champlain Towers building with her mother Graciela Cattarossi and grandparents Gina and Graciela. Her aunt Andrea, who visited them from Argentina, was also residing with the family at the time of the catastrophe.
Stella's father Enrique Arango is a ten-year veteran with the Miami Fire Rescue Department. He volunteered to stand side by side with his fellow firefighters after learning that his daughter might be among the casualties. He had been on the site with his brother and was a part of the rescue team who recovered Stella's body. Arango bid an emotional farewell to his daughter, draping his jacket on her and placing the Stars and Stripes on the gurney. Seven days after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers, the death toll stands at 22 while 126 people are still unaccounted for.
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Who was Stella Cattarossi?
According to WPLG, Stella resided with her family in apartment 501 of the Champlain Towers. Her mother Graciela is known to be a photographer. It is not yet confirmed whether the bodies of other members of the Cattarossi family have been recovered. However, it was revealed by family friends online that the little girl was found sleeping beside her mother Graciela. "RIP my beautiful friend Graciela Cattarossi and precious little Stella. I just learned that the two of you were recovered last night sleeping together. You were inseparable," a friend posted online, according to DailyMail.
Meanwhile, Stella's father Enrique Arango mourned her tragic death and offered her an emotional final farewell. Miami Fire Rescue Captain Ignatius Carroll stated, "When he (Arango) was made aware that we were close to where his loved one may have been, then he stood side by side with some of his other fellow firefighters. We were able to bring her and then at least give him an opportunity to say his farewells."
Another unnamed rescuer shared with WPLG, "Dad, his brother, and the other firefighters who dug her out escorted the body through a group of police officers and firefighters.....They brought her down. Dad draped his jacket over her and placed a small American flag on the gurney."
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe has been launched for the Cattarossis by family member Nicole Meijas. While sharing photographs of the family, she wrote in the description:
"I’m Nicole Mejias, daughter of Marcelo Cattarossi whose family is still missing. This GoFundMe is created on behalf of the Cattarossi family. On Thursday night Graciela and Gino Cattarossi were sleeping in their peaceful condo overlooking the ocean - happy parents and grandparents. In the other room was Graciela and Stella Cattarossi who have lived there with Gino & Graciela since Stella was born. Visiting was Graciela’s sister Andrea from Argentina. All of them are still missing due to the tragic collapse of the building. This GoFundMe will help the immediate Cattarossi family through these tragic times - specifically for Andrea’s 3 sons who are now missing their brave mother.
We hope and pray that Andrea, Graci, Stella, Gino and Graciela will return to us. We are extremely grateful for your help and support."
The fund has raised $25,808 out of its $150,000 goal at the time of writing this story, courtesy of 355 gracious donors.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez acknowledged the discovery of Stella's body, sharing, "'The City of Miami Fire Department has lost a seven-year-old daughter of one of our own firefighters. She was recovered last night by members of our search and rescue team in Florida Task Force Two."
He further stated, "Our chief is asking that all of you respect the privacy of the immediate family as well as our fire department, which is understandably grieving."