Theresa Velasquez dead and obituary, The woman whose voice was heard in the rubble of the collapse

A woman was trapped in a huge pile of concrete and bent steel for hours after the apartment collapsed in Surfside, Florida, last June.

“At some point, we stopped hearing her voice,” Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Kominsky said a week after the June 24 collapse.

An 11-page memo released last week by the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Department said “Voices in the Ruins” belonged to Live Nation music executive Theresa Velasquez, who died in Only 36 years old, and their parents.

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Deputy Fire Chief Raied Jadallah wrote the memo on April 25 to refute a newspaper report that suggested the voice in the rubble belonged to a 14-year-old boy who also died in the collapse. The memo — first reported by CBS Miami — disputed the details of USA TODAY’s December report.

Jadala’s memo provides new details about the harrowing moments and days when loved ones, rescuers and city officials hoped to find survivors amid broken air conditioners, sharp metal bars and crumbling concrete walls and balconies.

The memo details the high levels of carbon monoxide at the site and the dangers of using power tools in the pool.
“While working in stagnant water, rescuers were electrocuted by moisture in electrical wires while operating jackhammers,” Jadala wrote.

In the first five hours, rescuers freed survivors trapped in balconies, stairwells and parking lots, the memo said. In the end, a total of 37 survivors were rescued.
According to the memo, tools such as airbag lifters, hydraulic tools, and pneumatic mounts were used to rescue the four survivors trapped under the rubble.

Among the four survivors rescued from the rubble were a 15-year-old boy and a man writhing in the rubble, Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Erika Benitez said Saturday. His hands and fingers were seen when his dog.

A woman who lived on the ninth floor of the tower and her teenage daughter were also rescued from the rubble, Benitez said. The daughter was first spotted and pointed to rescuers about 30 feet away who found her mother. The two were seriously injured but have since recovered, she said. The girl’s father was also among the dead.

In a statement after the memo was made public, Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue said: “Rescue crews spared no effort in this search and rescue operation, and it is important that these first responders understand the full extent of their efforts.”

Jadala wrote in the interview that he learned that rescuers “never had a full or lengthy conversation with the woman in the rubble.” Communication usually lasts “a few seconds at a time”. At the time, a fire official said they heard the woman’s voice for several hours. Some rescuers believe the woman may have been 10 to 20 feet from a huge concrete slab where the operation began.

“Rescue workers said they could only communicate with the woman if all operations had ceased and everyone remained silent,” the memo said. “Even the faintest whispers of rescuers or shaking in the standing water could not hear the woman’s voice.”

The exchanges were brief and the woman’s voice was barely audible, Benitez said.

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“They told her, ‘If you can still hear us, if you’re still with us, tap two or three times,’ so they can hear what’s in the debris,” Benitez said of rescuers. Vibration.” “That’s how they communicated with her at the end. She was obviously getting weak, in and out.”
It was unclear if the woman was asked her name.

“You can hear it clearly a few times and then a few times not,” Benitez said. “She wasn’t loud enough to be heard. So we didn’t get her name, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t asked for her name.”

Rescuers said the voice was that of a woman, not a child, Jadala wrote. A rescue worker believes they heard the woman was in apartment 204, where a 14-year-old Colombian girl and her parents lived. Two other rescuers believe they heard it was #304, where Velázquez was visiting and staying with her parents.