By Boris Sanchez, CNN
A couple staying at a nearby hotel recorded video that shows debris and gushing water in the underground parking garage of the Surfside condominium building minutes before it collapsed.
Adriana Sarmiento and Roberto Castillero were at a nearby hotel when they recorded video in the early hours of June 24. One recording, taken after the couple heard a loud crash, shows a view through the gate for the parking garage. Water can be seen coming down and concrete rubble appears to have fallen.
The couple watched as residents of the Champlain Towers South building rushed to their balconies, confused about the sound. Sarmiento said she and Castillero scrambled into the street, trying to wave for residents to evacuate, but they couldn’t understand her.
The traumatized couple remembers 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.
Video the couple recorded after the collapse showed a huge pile of rubble and debris even as far as where they were standing after running back toward their hotel.
They were in disbelief.
“I said, ‘Where are the people on the balcony?’ ” Castillero said. “I did not realize that the balcony was not there.”
Sarmiento said that image has remained in her mind.
“For me, it’s been very difficult thinking of everyone who lived there,” she said.
As of Wednesday evening, the death toll from the collapse was 18 with 145 people unaccounted for, officials said.
The underground garage was an area inspectors had said in 2018 needed repairs. An engineer wrote in a report that “failed waterproofing” below the pool deck was “causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas” and warned that failure to replace it in the near future would cause “concrete deterioration to expand exponentially.”
The investigation into the collapse is just starting and experts have said it will take months to determine what caused the 55 units in two sections of the building to come crashing down.
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