The Champlain Towers collapse so far has left 11 dead and 150 missing. María Iliana Monteagudo tells how she could save herself from the disaster and regrets that they have not taken measures to prevent the tragedy.
Maria Iliana Monteagudo is relatively new to Surfside, Miami.
He used all the money he had after his divorce - 600 600,000 in cash - to buy his unit, No. 611, in December.
I was happy with the views of the sea and the friendly neighbors. "I like apartments, great views, great buildings," Monteagudo said in an interview.
Nobody said anything wrong about it to me. I bought the apartment blind. They all omitted reality. "
She was asleep Thursday morning when a strange sensation woke her up. "It was as if something supernatural woke me up. I felt a little weird and thought, 'Oh, I forgot to close the sliding door to the balcony, and the wind is blowing.' "I tried to close the sliding door and felt the building move. The door would not close", he explained.
Then Monteagudo heard a creak. There was a line on the wall coming down from the ceiling, about two fingers wide. "Then it started to get wider and wider as I watched," he said. "I said to myself, 'You have to run. You have to run right away. '
"I ran to my room, took off my robe, and put on a dress and sandals. I ran to the dining room table, grabbed my purse and my credit cards.
I took the key. "I put out the candle that I have every night for Guadalupe de Mexico," he said.
I blew out the candle, just in case."
Monteagudo ran for the stairs, descending rapidly. Then, there was a noise between the sixth and fourth floors, and he realized that the building was falling. Monteagudo was worried that he would crush her. "I thought it was coming down like a domino effect," he said.
"I was afraid of getting crushed," she said, adding, "I kept yelling,' God help me, please help me. I want to see my children, I want to see my grandchildren, I want to live, please help me, God,'" he said.
When Monteagudo finally escaped through a door, he had water up to his ankles, and cables floated beside him. He ran into a security guard. "He showed me, 'Mother, mother, get on, this is an earthquake,'" Monteagudo said. "I said, 'No, it's not an earthquake, it's the building that is falling.'
There was a wall he needed to climb, then a chasm several feet wide. The security guard urged her to jump. "But I couldn't jump," he said. "I saw a piece of the column, I put a foot on it, I climbed, and I found myself in the middle of the street." He exited the building into the visitor parking area.
Monteagudo thought about all the things he lost: wedding photos, first communion photos, children's birthday photos. "I lost everything; I have no past," he said. "But I say thank God; I'm still alive."
Monteagudo thinks a lot about an 80-year-old woman who lived across the hall and who greeted her when she first moved in months ago. "I thought she was with her son that day. I called her daughter-in-law. He disappeared. They haven't found it," he said. "I feel so bad. I told them I felt so bad. I cry a lot; I feel so guilty".
She also feels angry. "A lot of people knew there were problems in that building. It's a disaster that someone could have stopped before it happened," he said.
And then there is the impact. "I can't believe it," Monteagudo said, rubbing an amulet of the Virgin of Guadalupe that hangs from a necklace, one of the few personal belongings she has left. "I can not believe it. I don't know what will happen to me now".