Antonio and Gladys Lozano: Surfside condo couple found dead were married 59 years, ‘wanted to go together’
SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: The bodies of an elderly married couple were found lying together in the rubble after the Champlain Towers South building partially collapsed on June 24. The couple — Gladys Lozano and Antonio Lozano — was among the first victims found in the rubble after the tragedy that has killed at least 24 people and left 121 unaccounted for. Their family members, though saddened, were relieved that the couple passed together.
The couple's grandson, Brian Lozano, told reporters, "They couldn't stand a moment without each other. To this day I never saw them apart. I'm finally at peace and I really hope for other families to get that sense of peace knowing that I got that sense of closure." The couple would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary in July.
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"It's tragic but it's strangely unsettling that I have peace knowing they would constantly argue about who would pass first," he said. "But in the end ... they got what they both wanted. Each other." Speaking to CBS News, Sergio Lozano, 56, said that had dinner at his parents' condo on Wednesday night, June 23. Sergio, who resides in the nearby Champlain Towers East condo building, met his parents for the last time that night.
As per Sergio, living by the beach had always been Antonio's dream, and they had it at Champlain Towers South. When Antonio started having health problems, Sergio purchased an apartment upstairs from his parents to keep an eye on them and make sure he could be there in the event of a medical emergency. Last year, he sold it and moved to the neighboring building. "It was very endearing having them so close," he told CBS News. But tragedy struck.
At around 1:20 am in the morning, Sergio was woken up by a loud noise -- he thought it was a tornado, and he stepped out onto his balcony to bring the patio furniture inside. However, what he saw was as unexpected as anything. He saw billowing smoke and an expanse of the night sky where his parents' condo building once stood. Sergio remembered telling his wife, "The building isn't there!” and she's yelling, “What do you mean?” to which he said, “My parents' apartment is not there, it's gone!”
On June 26, late in the night, Miami-Dade Police announced that the bodies of Gladys and Antonio had been recovered. Their family was told they were found by each other's side, still in bed. "This is a nightmare I can't wake up from. I just had my last dinner with them. Then just opening that door, and their building isn't there," Sergio said.
He also said that his parents feared that one of them would pass away before the other because they didn't want to be without each other. "My parents were yin and yang. 'I can't be without you,' they would say," Sergio said. "They always wanted to go together — and they did. That's the only peace I have from this. I'm grateful. It's a love story. They couldn't be without each other. Thank you, God, for letting them go together. I have their last memory and everything they taught me. I have closure."
As per Sergio, more than 60 years ago, Antonio Lozano fled Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba "with nothing but clothes on his back." He moved to South Florida where he requested political asylum. Antonio worked three busboy jobs until he had enough money saved up to get his then-girlfriend Gladys into the United States and subsequently marry her.
"My dad would take my mom to work at 3 o'clock in the morning, come back home, continue sleeping, take my brother to school at 8 am and then go to work," Sergio said. "They did it all for us." Years later, their hard work paid off. Antonio was hired to become a bank clerk, and he quickly climbed the ranks. He ended up becoming executive vice president at First National Bank of Miami.
"Family and love are the greatest: Those are the most important values my parents left me with. And if you work hard, this country will provide you with everything you need," Sergio said.
Sergio Lozano Jr, the couple's grandson, wrote on social media, "You taught us that love meant accepting everything about a person. To care and forgive when others wouldn't. To always fight for family and never hold a grudge because it was not worth it. What you left behind is a foundation strong enough to hold us all up in moments like these."