Entire Families Were Lost in the Surfside Collapse. Here Is One of Their Stories.

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Because the catastrophe happened successful the mediate of the night, galore parents, children, grandparents and siblings were killed together.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue workers placed a banner astatine  a memorial connected  Wednesday.
Credit...Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Published July 8, 2021Updated July 9, 2021, 2:40 p.m. ET

MIAMI — Just aft dawn connected that greeting that present feels similar everlastingly ago, Annette Guara Hurst hurried to her computer. A high-rise condo gathering had collapsed successful a Surfside, Fla., vicinity acquainted to her, and she needed to spot the record wherever she keeps her family’s addresses. She scanned the list, looking for her youngest brother, praying that her gut was wrong.

But determination it was: 8777 Collins Avenue, the aforesaid determination of the oceanfront gathering that had buckled and fallen successful the mediate of night.

“Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God,” were the lone words Ms. Hurst could muster.

Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, the youngest of the 3 siblings, lived connected the eighth floor, successful Unit 802. So did her sister-in-law, Anaely Rodriguez, 42. And her 11-year-old and 4-year-old nieces, Lucia and Emma. In that moment, Ms. Hurst had the devastating realization that her member — and his household — mightiness beryllium gone.


Credit...via Peter Milian

On Tuesday, the household — recovered beneath the heap of rubble conscionable days aft the Champlain Towers South partially collapsed connected June 24 — was buried together, the girls sharing a coffin adorned with a pinkish ribbon and a purple ribbon.

By Thursday afternoon, the decease toll had risen to 64, with 40 victims identified. Seventy-six radical were inactive classified arsenic perchance missing.

The clip of the catastrophe — erstwhile overmuch of America was dormant — near a peculiarly cruel legacy: the full nonaccomplishment of household units. Gone successful an instant were parents and their young oregon big children, sets of siblings, joined couples, grandparents and their grandchildren — leaving their survivors grief-stricken and their household trees with gaping holes.

“The Surfside assemblage volition ne'er beryllium the aforesaid again,” said the Rev. Juan Sosa, who officiated the ceremonial for the Guara and Rodriguez family. Eight different families from his parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church, were among those killed successful the structural collapse, among the deadliest successful American history.


Credit...Chandan Khanna/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Those families, positive galore others, correspond respective twelve lives and astatine slightest 3 generations.

There was the Cattarrosi household successful Unit 501, which included Graciela, a photographer, her girl Stella, 7, her parents, Graciela and Gino, and her sister, Andrea, who was visiting from their location state of Argentina.

There was the Velasquez household successful Unit 304, which included Angela, 60, who owned a men’s boutique, and her husband, Julio, 67. Their daughter, Theresa, was visiting from Los Angeles.

On the aforesaid floor, down the hallway successful Unit 311, were the Patels: Vishal, 42, his 38-year-old wife, Bhavna, their 1-year-old daughter, Aishani. Relatives person said Ms. Patel was 4 months pregnant.

And connected the seventh floor, successful Units 702 and 712, the Kleimans, who had lived successful the gathering for galore years. Four members of the family, Nancy Kress Levin, her 2 sons, Frank and Jay Kleiman, and Frank’s wife, Ana Ortiz, were memorialized connected Thursday astatine a Hollywood, Fla., synagogue.

In the aboriginal hours aft the collapse, a watercourse of relatives, shellshocked, bewildered and confused — buildings bash not conscionable crumble, they said to 1 another, truthful however could this person happened — gathered adjacent the ruins, wherever fractional the gathering was inactive standing.


Credit...Patel family

At home, Ms. Hurst and her son, Tommy, who besides was her niece Lucia’s godfather, studied the images of the gathering that were flashing crossed the television, searching for remnants of the eighth-floor flat that had a partial presumption of the ocean. It was gone. She hoped for a miracle.

“I inactive had a sliver of hope,” she said, “that someway my member and Ana and the girls had been spared.”

Like galore others who awoke to quality of the collapse, Ms. Hurst and her household — her husband, Tom, her son, positive her different brother, Manuel, and his wife, Lola — yet made their mode to the reunification center, which was serving arsenic a lifeline for relatives looking for information. She remembers the anxiousness washing implicit her.

“There was a benignant of desperation that you can’t adjacent describe,” she said. “We waited and waited and waited. But determination conscionable wasn’t immoderate accusation astatine that point. We yet went to hold astatine home.

“I was conscionable focused connected making definite I had anticipation from the opening to whenever would beryllium the end.”

There would beryllium much visits to the reunification center, and much somber briefings successful which Daniella Levine Cava, the politician of Miami-Dade County, revealed the regular totals of the dormant and the widening standard of the tragedy.

Hours gave mode to days.

Eventually, the families were escorted to what remained of the high-rise building, which had erstwhile soared 13 stories. Ms. Hurst watched arsenic a hunt canine stopped successful 1 country and began barking. She wanted to judge successful that infinitesimal that the canine had recovered her small member and his family, that they were nether the rubble but alive. She did not cognize astatine the clip that his assemblage had already been recovered.


Credit...Eva Marie Uzcategui/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In immoderate ways, Ms. Hurst had been a motherlike fig to Mr. Guara, who was 12 years younger. She and her member Manuel were calved successful Cuba earlier coming to Miami, wherever their begetter was a nonrecreational jai alai player. In a uncommon infinitesimal of levity, she described Mr. Guara arsenic “the annoying small brother.”

Mr. Guara’s childhood, she said, was filled with outdoor sports and competitory ungraded biking. Once, Ms. Hurst ran into her member portion she was connected a vessel successful 1 of Miami’s waterways. There helium was, waving to her portion kayaking crossed the water. He was a instrumentality of the stone set Kiss and a die-hard protagonist of the University of Miami Hurricanes — adjacent teaching his daughters however to bash the “U” manus sign.

He met his woman astatine enactment astir 20 years ago, and the mates was joined successful 2008 connected St. John successful the U.S. Virgin Islands. They lived successful different condo successful Surfside earlier moving to the Champlain Towers, wherever they had been renting an flat for astir 4 years.

“His household was his world,” Ms. Hurst said.

Ms. Rodriguez, Mr. Guara’s wife, moved to Miami from Cuba erstwhile she was 13. She attended Miami Dade College and years aboriginal took a presumption astatine Florida International University, wherever she was a vocation counsellor for 1 of the postgraduate programs. She aboriginal earned a bachelor of concern medication grade from F.I.U. Her past presumption was arsenic a vocation improvement expert astatine the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.


Credit...Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Her younger sister, Digna Rodriguez, said Ms. Rodriguez loved tango and salsa dancing and practiced yoga and meditation each day. Because Lucia had a peanut allergy, Ms. Rodriguez had besides worked to dispersed consciousness of nutrient allergies and had go a fierce wellness attraction advocate.

“Anaely was precise outgoing, an extrovert,” said Ms. Rodriguez, 40, who talked to her nieces astir daily. “She was precise charismatic and she lived for her daughters.”

The Guaras attended St. Joseph Catholic Church, location to astir 1,300 families, 3 blocks from their condo. One of the deacons, Roberto Pineda, baptized Emma successful 2017. Two years later, Father Sosa celebrated Lucia’s First Communion Mass. And past this week, helium presided implicit their funerals, wherever helium offered a connection of anticipation successful the look of calamity and of appreciating the “quality of beingness implicit the quantity of goods.”

Mr. Guara, a determination income manager for a textile company, filled his Facebook leafage with photos of the household astatine the beach, connected a hayride, astatine a Hurricanes shot game.


Credit...via Peter Milian

Late past year, helium shared a communicative connected Facebook astir Lucia, who had asked him to message a missive for her. It was addressed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a foundation the mates regularly donated to. He wrote: “She had stuffed the envelope with her piggy slope savings from birthdays and bony fairy due to the fact that ‘they request it much than I do.’”

“As a Dad,” helium added, “my consciousness of pridefulness was overwhelming.”

In the days aft the household was found, relatives from some sides gathered successful Ms. Hurst’s Miami Shores location to sermon the funeral. There was immoderate comfortableness successful however rapidly the foursome had been found, successful knowing they would beryllium buried together. “Our bid comes from knowing they volition beryllium unneurotic forever,” Ms. Hurst said.

Because the sisters had been inseparable, the household decided to spot the girls beside each different successful a azygous achromatic coffin. Lucia, who loved astronomy and outer space, was buried successful an astronaut costume. Emma, who loved the satellite of princesses, was dressed successful a pinkish gown befitting royalty.

Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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