Woman Says Decision to Stay Home and Watch Soccer Kept Her From Being at Fla. Condo Collapse

Patricia Avilez said she was going to stay at her brother-in-law's condo on Wednesday night, but changed her mind

One Florida woman's decision to stay at home and watch soccer may have saved her life.

Patricia Avilez had plans to spend Wednesday night at her brother-in-law's condo, located in a 12-story complex in Surfside that collapsed early Thursday morning, killing at least one person and leaving more than 50 unaccounted for.

Avilez told the Associated Press that while she doesn't live in the building, she often stops by her brother-in-law's place when he's not there to check on things and pick up his mail.

That was Avilez's plan Wednesday night — but a soccer game on TV kept her home, and thus kept her away from the tragedy that befell the complex the next morning.

"Last night I was thinking, 'Let me go over there to sleep over [at] night," Avilez told the AP. "I was looking at the soccer game and I changed my mind and I stayed home."

She only learned of the collapse on the radio as she headed over around 5:30 a.m. on Thursday.

"I came here and it's gone," she told the AP. "Everything is [a] disaster."

Surfside condo collapse
The aftermath of the collapse of the condo building in Surfside, Florida. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue/Twitter
Surfside condo collapse
The aftermath of the collapse of the Surfside Condo. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue/Twitter

The condo has 136 units, and about 55 of them collapsed around 1:30 a.m., Ray Jadallah, assistant fire chief of operations for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said at a press conference.

Rescue teams were able to pull out 35 occupants trapped in the building, while an additional 10 people were assessed and treated, he said.

Of those 10, two people were hospitalized, and one later died of their injuries.

Fifty-one people are still unaccounted for, Sally Heyman, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, told the Washington Post.

"We have people who ran down stairwells who exited themselves and others who don't have records of transport," she said. "They are unaccounted for because they have not been heard from or have not called family or friends to say they are okay."

Surfside condo collapse
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue/Twitter

Rescue crews are continuing to dig through the rubble to search for people who survived the collapse, but are trapped.

"We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference.

Among those rescued was a young child whom Nicholas Balboa spotted after running to the scene shortly after the collapse.

"I could hear somebody yelling in the debris," Balboa told WFOR. "What he was actually saying was, 'Can you see my hand, can you see my hand?' And I could see a little hand sticking up waving, moving his fingers trying to get our attention."

Balboa said rescuers were eventually able to reach and save the child.

"We were there, we were letting him know we were there. He said, 'Please don't leave me, please don't leave me.' We wouldn't leave him," said Balboa. "He looked fairly alright, like very lucky. He had a guardian angel for sure."

DeSantis said that engineers will investigate the cause of the collapse, but that answers might take time.

"You're not gonna have those answers immediately, but I know that they are going to be working diligently to do that," he said at the press conference.

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