Since last Wednesday (23), Erick de Moura, 40, has been going two or three times a day to Champlain Towers South, a building that collapsed in Surfside, a city north of Miami Beach, in the US state. from Florida. From a distance, he observes where he has lived since moving to the American city three years ago. One day, he saw the carpet in the guest room hanging among the rubble. In the other, the headboard. “There is nothing. It’s over,” he said.
So far, 11 people have been confirmed dead and 150 are still missing. The Brazilian businessman claims he is the only confirmed survivor of his column of apartments, those ending in 04.
In a conversation with Folha, he talks about neighbors he knew who have been confirmed among the victims, apart from the many who are among the missing. He also remembers in detail every moment of the seven hours leading up to the collapse, from the moment he left the house.
He was supposed to be there on the cusp of collapse, but a sequence of unforeseen events ended up securing him from disaster.
First, the invitation from his girlfriend, image consultant Fernanda Figueiredo, 45, for him to watch the Copa América football match between Brazil and Colombia at his home, with his three children and a few Colombian friends. Then one of her children decided to sleep with a friend, and not the other way around, as they had agreed. Her eldest son, who was with another friend, ended up staying there too. Fernanda then called Erick to sleep upright.
“Erick was already at the door, saying goodbye, and I said: you are going to stay with me. I even found my reaction strange, I don’t know why I said that. He had entered the water and his shorts were wet, he wanted to go because the other day he had a morning meeting, but I took the shorts, I dried them off and he stayed. That’s what ended up saving her life, ”she said.
“We don’t have that thing of being together Wednesday night,” Erick adds. “I used to have dinner with her and the boys and I was going. It was totally irrelevant. “
When he woke up at 5:20 am to use the bathroom, he saw missed calls on his cell phone and messages coming from his building door. ” It’s okay ? He asked. Without understanding, he called her.
“She said, ‘Oh my God, I’m glad you’re alive. The building collapsed. There are deaths ”, recalls the Brazilian. “My whole body shook. It wasn’t even a shock to the stomach. It was as if I had been hit on the head.
Initially, he thought that only a wall or a balcony had fallen. When he turned on the television, he saw the video of the landslide.
“Then it was total desperation. The head has already started to think about people, thinking that I might be there. That I was supposed to be there. “
He says other Brazilians who lived in the building were rescued, such as a family of five currently in Brazil. There is also a Brazilian woman who was visiting her mother at the time of the collapse and awaiting news of her husband and five-year-old son, who are missing.
One of the victims already identified was known to him: a woman who was rescued with her son, but who ended up not surviving.
Erick has lost everything he had and is staying in a hotel with the other survivors. They often meet at night to tell their stories and share the anguish of waiting for news of the missing.
He says he’s still in shock. “So far, I don’t think I understand what’s going on. I don’t know what made me not be there, if it was the power of God in Fernanda’s life. It was a miracle. A miracle saved my life.