When the Champlain Towers South collapsed in the early morning of June 24, Angela and her husband, Edgar Gonzalez, were on the ninth floor of the condo with their daughter, Deven, 16. Their other daughter, Tayler Scheinhaus, wasn’t home at the time.
Angela Gonzales’s mother, Kathleen Gonzalez, said that her daughter woke up in the middle of the night because she heard a strange noise. When she woke up, the building was shaking.
“She started screaming for them to get up and get out, and she just ran with her daughter, pulled her daughter by her arm, when they got out the front door, they didn’t even go five feet, and it fell down to one floor below,” Kathleen said of the harrowing incident.
Angela and Deven were separated. As Deven screamed for her mom, Angela “crawled over and put her body on top of my granddaughter and they fell again all the way down to the third floor,” said Kathleen.
The events that unfolded were like a scene from a movie—only this time, the nightmare was real, and it was happening to their family.
Amazingly, Angela and Deven survived, but each ended up with severe injuries. They two were among the first people rescued from the rubble.
Angela’s pelvis was smashed, and she suffered spine injuries, a collapsed lung, and required hip surgery.
“She was literally crushed, and it’s just amazing that she’s sitting up in the bed today,” Kathleen said.
On the other hand, Deven will be treated in a physical rehabilitation center. She suffered a broken femur, and a piece of metal penetrated her skull. It will likely take about a year or two before she fully recovers.
Kathleen said the paramedics and fire department workers involved in the rescue have visited them many times and said “they should not be alive” after what they went through.
But what hurts more than the physical pain they’re feeling is their despair over Edgar’s absence. The pillar of their home has been missing for over two weeks now, and they can do nothing but wait.
Worse, the search had moved into recovery mode. When Angela and Deven gathered with other family members, they had a minister with them as they shared the devastating news.
Edgar, who had just restarted his career as an attorney two years ago, had been working hard to make up for lost time. But more than that, he does it to provide for his family.
People close to him say he is “the kindest, most loyal friend anyone could ever ask for and also the most dedicated father and husband.”
Edgar is the primary financial provider for the family. With Angela on a long road to recovery, Edgar’s friends from high school have set up a trust to benefit the family.
“The funds collected will be used to help them rebuild their lives as they lost everything during this tragic event,” wrote Rolando Moreno, Edgar’s best friend who organized the GoFundMe for the Gonzalezes.
The Gonzalezes, described as a “wonderfully close-knit family,” had been living in the condo for about 15 years. Whenever the holidays would come around, they would usually host large family gatherings in their home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“I mean, it just freaks me out. I could have lost 25 family members, you know, had this happened during the holidays,” Kathleen said.
Amid all the horrible things that have happened was one ray of light. The family’s cat, Binx, was found alive. The lucky feline survived “without a scratch,” said Kathleen.
You can help the Gonzalez family get back on their feet by donating to this GoFundMe.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time.