Surfside condo collapse: Tourist Adriana Sarmiento cried 'they all died' as she filmed tragedy
SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: On June 24, several residents of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside were jolted awake around 1:30 am by fire alarms, falling debris, and quakes. Two tourists, around the same time, witnessed the unfolding tragedy from a neighboring resort. The 13-floor building partially collapsed, causing the death of at least 18 people, including two children. More than 140 people still remain unaccounted for in the rubble.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County said on Wednesday, June 30, “Any loss of life, especially given the unexpected, unprecedented nature of this event is a tragedy. But the loss of our children is too great to bear.” Florida Governor Ron DeSanti said the same day, “While there’s an overwhelming amount of grief, there’s just still the apprehension about not knowing for sure.”
Who are Adriana Sarmiento and Roberto Castillero?
Tourists Adriana Sarmiento and Roberto Castillero were on vacation and swimming in a pool at the nearby Bluegreen Vacations Solara Surfside Resort, when they heard a loud noise in the early hours of June 24. They went out into the street to investigate. There, they recorded video of debris and water gushing into the underground parking garage of the Champlain Towers South. As per phone records, this video was recorded at 1:18 am. The building was reported to have crumbled at around 1:25 am.
But that’s not all they captured. In another video filmed by Sarmiento, the horrifying aftermath of the disaster can be seen. The video shows rubble from the collapsed portion of the condo everywhere, as debris flies in the air. A man can be heard yelling that they needed to get the firetruck's attention while Sarmiento sobbed in Spanish, “They died, they all died.”
Reportedly, the couple was covered in dust and suffered some bruises in the incident. The couple said that they remembered only flashes of what happened next. "Dust, and then, glass, rock, and then I started running for my life," Castillero said. It took a few minutes to realize what happened.
Sarmiento told a local ABC News affiliate that she had initially tried to alert the residents about the danger, but after a while, she thought they were exaggerating because they thought "things like that don't happen in America."
“I never thought that it really was gonna collapse,” Castillero reportedly told CNN. “In America, never that happen before ... I told my wife, ‘Don't worry about it, it's not gonna collapse’.” Sarmiento also said that it was very difficult to think of all of those who lived in the condo who are now either dead or missing. She said that image has remained in her mind. "I said, 'Where are the people on the balcony?'" Castillero said. "I did not realize that the balcony was not there."
Approximately 55 of the oceanfront complex's 136 units were destroyed, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah. While the death toll and the list of missing persons are alarming, 139 people who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the disaster had been accounted for and were safe at the time of reporting this.