As of Monday, the death toll has risen to 28, and 117 people are still missing.
Stella Cattarossi, 7, was in Champlain Towers South with her mother, grandparents, and aunt in apartment 501, which overlooked the Atlantic Ocean, when the condo collapsed. The young girl shared a room with her mother Graciela Cattarossi, reports Local10. Her grandparents, Graciela and Gino Cattarossi, were in the other bedroom. Stella’s aunt Andrea Cattarossi, originally from Argentina, was visiting the family, leaving her three sons back home, waiting for her to return, when suddenly, the northeastern side of the building collapsed.
Since then, firefighters have been working day and night to rescue people from within the rubble, per BBC.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban, and Capt. Ignatius “Iggy” Carroll, a spokesman for the department, said that the Florida Task Force 2 team eventually pulled out Stella's body, but before they did, they informed the child's father, who is also a firefighter, that they may discover his daughter's body. Her uncle was also helping out with the search and rescue operations.
Just when you think your heart can’t break any harder…— Glenna Milberg (@GlennaWPLG) July 2, 2021
“Miami firefighter there to recover his own daughter killed in Surfside building collapse”
“When he 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,” Carroll said. “We were able to bring her and then at least give him an opportunity to say his farewells.” According to CBS12, her body was found alongside her mother, Gracieala's body.
The little girl's body was bought out on a gurney, and a witness said Stella’s father, who was with his brother, used his jacket to cover his daughter’s body, placed a small U.S. flag over her, and carried her out of the area. Witnesses said the Florida Task Force 2 team escorted him and a group of police officers and firefighters lined up on the roadway.
Elad Edri, the deputy commander of an Israeli team that is helping out at the site, told the New York Times that once the little girl's body was taken away, the rescuers embraced and cried.
This is 7-year-old Stella Cattarossi & her mother Graciela. Her body was recovered from the rubble in #Surfside last night. Her father, a @CityofMiamiFire firefighter, was there to assist in her removal. Her mom & other family members are still missing. May she Rest In Peace 💔🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/FOIINylyMX— Guadalupe Monarrez (@lupemonarrez) July 2, 2021
“Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrific tragedy,” Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said, reports TODAY. “We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his 7-year-old daughter in the collapse. She was recovered last night by members of our Urban Search and Rescue Team, Florida Task Force 2. We ask that you respect the privacy of the immediate family as well as our Fire Department family while we grieve our loss and support our own.”
Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava commended the first responders working tirelessly to rescue people. “They truly represent the very best in all of us and we need to be there for them as they are here for us,” Levine Cava said.
The beachside condo was built in 1981, and authorities are yet to release the reason for the building to collapse. Levine Cava, however, said it could be a “structural engineering question.” The building had been undergoing renovations and roof work at the time of the collapse, officials said. A 2018 structural field survey report raised concerns about structural damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “cracking and spalling” located in the parking garage.
As of Monday, the death toll has risen to 28, and 117 people are still missing, according to Reuters.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | WPLG Local 10 | Miami firefighter’s daughter killed in Surfside building collapse identified as Stella Cattarossi