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Vanderbilt student remembers friend found dead after Surfside condo collapse

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By MARISSA SULEK

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — One of the people who did not survive the Surfside collapse was a Vanderbilt University student going into his senior year.

Andreas Giannitsopoulos was an economics major. Abel Bowden, a fraternity brother of Giannitsopoulos, said he was one of his most supportive friends. They met this year, pledging Lambda Chi Alpha. Bowden said Giannitsopoulos made an impact on him he’ll never forget.

“I know as a friend he would go through the gates of hell to help me,” Bowden said.

Bowden knew Giannitsopoulos for a short time. They were both Vanderbilt transfer students pledging the same fraternity.

“I only knew him for like six months,” Bowden said. “But we hung out a lot. We were together all the time.”

But time had nothing on their friendship.

“He was really supportive, and he helped me a lot,” Bowden remembered. “He had a really goofy laugh, and he was just a funny guy.”

Giannitsopoulos told Bowden he was going to Miami to visit his godfather.

“I would have never thought he was in the building,” Bowden said.

Not a thought until he saw social media posts saying Giannitsopoulos was one of more than 150 people missing after the condo collapse.

“When I saw the post, I immediately tried to text him, tried to call him and was just like ‘hey, what’s going on?’ ‘Are you ok?’ and ‘how are you doing?’ and there was no response,” Bowden said.

While Bowden’s hope dwindled, he says finding his body was the closure he needed.

“There was a 1% chance I was holding onto it,” Bowden says. “But it was good for all the family members anyways.”

The senior year won’t be the same for Bowden or the Lambda Chi fraternity. But even the tiny amount of time he knew Giannitsopoulos, he’s grateful.

“We became very tight-knit as a group,” Bowden said. “And to lose a member of such a small close group, it is going to change my experience for the worst very drastically.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for Giannitsopoulos’ family.

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