Nicholas Balboa was walking his dog around midnight when he felt the ground shake, he told local media. The rumble was followed by a loud crash and debris as part of a condo complex collapsed in Surfside, Florida.
“I thought maybe a storm was rolling in, but about 30 seconds to a minute later, another large rumble. That’s when it kind of clicked to me that something wasn’t quite right,” Balboa told the News Nation Now network.
Balboa said it was “eerily quiet” as he and another person approached piles of concrete and metal, CNN reported. Police and first responders had not yet arrived when Balboa heard a scream.
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Balboa said he spotted little fingers pop out through the broken concrete and heard a boy’s voice say, “Can somebody see me?”
Balboa said he climbed over rubble to reach the boy.
“He was just saying, ‘Please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me.’ I told him: ‘We’re not gonna go anywhere. We’ll be here,'” Balboa said.
Balboa said the boy evidently had been sleeping when the building collapsed, because he was found underneath a mattress and bed frame, News Nation Now reported. Balboa used the boy’s phone flashlight to get the attention of police officers. Eventually, officers were able to pull the boy out of the concrete. Balboa said the boy’s mother was not immediately found.
WSVN, a local outlet, reported that the boy’s mother was found and later died of her injuries.
Balboa said he rushed to help because he felt “something had to be done.”
“Especially hearing his voice, knowing that he was young. I knew that he couldn’t have been older than maybe just a preteen,” he told News Nation Now. “I would hope that if I were in a similar position somebody wouldn’t leave me, especially if I was alone.”
Those unaccounted for:What we know about those missing in the Miami condo building collapse
Early Thursday, the 12-story beachfront condominium building just north of Miami collapsed, killing at least four people.
As of Friday, 159 people remained unaccounted for. Among those missing were Orthodox Jews from Russia, Argentine Americans and the sister of Paraguay’s first lady.
Late Thursday, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of nearby property owner and various victims seeking more than $5 million in damages. The suit filed against against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association Inc. alleges the condominium did not repair structural problems and failed to prevent the collapse.
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