Survivor of collapsed Miami condo describes personal ordeal

‘Something supernatural woke me up’: Survivor of collapsed Miami condo describes how a ‘strange’ feeling woke her just in time to flee the collapsing building

  • Maria Iliana Monteagudo, 64, moved in to her condo in Surfside back in December, using $600,000 in cash to buy the place after her divorce 
  • Monteagudo moved because she ‘liked the apartment, nice view, nice building’ 
  • That changed Thursday morning, when she awoke to an uncomfortable feeling 
  • She heard a crack before seeing a line about two fingers wide run on her ceiling
  • From there, Monteagudo quickly prepared to flee the building, changing into a dress and sandals and grabbing her purse, keys and credit cards 
  • Monteagudo was forced to climb a wall after escaping the building before a security guard instructed her to jump over a gap several feet wide
  • She ultimately found another way around the obstacle and ended in a parking lot
  • Elected officials have pledged to conduct multiple investigations into the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside
  • Another victim was recovered on Tuesday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 12, with 149 people still unaccounted for 

One survivor of the condo collapse in Miami is speaking out for the first time about her harrowing ordeal almost a week after the Surfside building fell apart, speaking to a ‘supernatural’ feeling that may have saved her life.

Maria Iliana Monteagudo, 64, moved in to her condo in December, using $600,000 in cash to buy the place after her divorce.

Monteagudo says she moved there because she ‘liked the apartment, nice view, nice building.’

One woman is describing her harrowing escape from the Surfside condo that collapsed last week (search and rescue mission pictured)

Maria Iliana Monteagudo, 64, moved in to her condo in Surfside back in December, using $600,000 in cash to buy the place after her divorce (search pictured)

Monteagudo ultimately found another way around the obstacle and ended in a parking lot while fleeing the collapsing building

Another victim was recovered on Tuesday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 12, with 149 people still unaccounted for

‘Nobody told me anything bad about it. I bought the apartment blind. Everybody omitted the reality,’ Monteagudo said in an interview with The Washington Post.

That all changed early Thursday morning, when she awoke to an uncomfortable feeling.

‘It’s like something supernatural woke me up. I felt something strange, and I thought, “Oh, I forgot to close the sliding door to the balcony, and the wind is making the noise,”‘ Monteagudo said.

When she attempted to close the door, however, is when she realized something was not right.

‘I tried to close the sliding door, and it felt like the building was moving. The door wouldn’t close,’ Monteagudo said.

Monteagudo then heard a crack before seeing a line about two fingers wide run down her ceiling.

‘Then it started getting wider and wider as I watched,’ Monteagudo said. ‘Something said, you have to run. You have to run immediately.’

Monteagudo heard a crack before seeing a line about two fingers wide run on her ceiling

From there, Monteagudo quickly prepared to flee the building, changing into a dress and sandals and grabbing her purse, keys and credit cards

From there, Monteagudo quickly prepared to flee the building, changing into a dress and sandals and grabbing her purse, keys and credit cards.

‘I blew out the candle that I light every night for Guadalupe of Mexico … just in case,’ Monteagudo said.

She then made a dash for the stairs and started going down quickly when she heard a noise between the sixth and fourth floor of the building.

‘I thought if it’s coming down, and it’s coming down, down, down like a domino effect,’ Monteagudo said, worrying that she would get crushed by the collapsing condo.

Monteagudo was forced to climb a wall after escaping the building before a security guard instructed her to jump over a gap several feet wide

‘I kept going, screaming, “God, help me, please help me. I want to see my sons, I want to see my grandsons, I want to live, please help me, God,”‘ Monteagudo continued.

The woman managed to escape through a door, only to find herself ankle-deep in cable-infested water, where she encountered a security guard.

‘He told me, “Mama, mama, let’s go, this is an earthquake,”‘ Monteagudo said. ‘I said, “No, it’s not an earthquake, it’s the building falling down.”‘

Monteagudo was forced to climb a wall before the guard instructed her to jump over a gap several feet wide, though she chose not to jump.

‘I saw a piece of column, and I put a foot on it, and I climbed over and found myself in the middle of the street,’ Monteagudo said, emerging in the visitors parking lot.

Elected officials have pledged to conduct multiple investigations into the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside

She was devastated to lose precious keepsakes like wedding and birthday photos, but relieved to survive.

Meanwhile, she can’t help but think about others in the building, like an 80-year-old woman who lied across the hall.

‘I thought that she was with her son that day. I called her daughter-in-law. She disappeared,’ Monteagudo said. ‘She hasn’t been found. I feel so bad. I told them I felt so bad. I cry a lot, I feel so guilty.’

She’s also angry, hinting that many people knew the building at problems before Thursday’s disaster.

‘A lot of people knew there were problems in that building,’ she said. ‘This is a disaster that somebody could have stopped before it happened.

‘I just can’t believe it. I don’t know what will happen to me now,’ she added.

Elected officials have pledged to conduct multiple investigations into the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside last week.

Another victim was recovered on Tuesday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 12, with 149 people still unaccounted for.

Miami-Dade County mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that she and her staff will meet with engineering, construction and geology experts, among others, to review building safety issues and develop recommendations ‘to ensure a tragedy like this will never, ever happen again’.

State attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she will pursue a grand jury investigation to examine factors and decisions that led to the collapse.

Governor Ron DeSantis evoked a well-known military commitment to leave no one behind on the battlefield and pledged to do the same for the people still missing in the rubble.

Also on Tuesday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden would travel to Surfside on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that weeks before the building collapsed, the president of its board wrote a letter saying that structural problems identified in a 2018 inspection had ‘gotten significantly worse’ and owners needed to pay a hefty price to get them fixed.

The April 9 letter from Champlain Towers South Condominium president Jean Wodnicki hinted at an ongoing debate over the repairs and a reluctance by some condo owners to pay for major work that would cost at least 15.5 million dollars.

‘A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now,’ she wrote in the letter, which was confirmed to The Associated Press by a spokesman for the condo board.

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