“We were able to bring her and then at least give him an opportunity to say his farewells.”
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of death that may be disturbing to readers.
When the beachside condo collapsed in Miami, it claimed a lot of innocent lives, but nothing can be more heartbreaking than a firefighter discovering that his own daughter had not made it alive. The first responder, who did not wish to be identified, told Local10 that the young girl's remains were brought down on a gurney by rescuers. The grieving father immediately draped his jacket over his daughter's body and then placed an American flag on the gurney. The New York Post reports that the child's uncle was also a part of the search and rescue team when the unfortunate discovery was made on Thursday, July 1.
Just when you think your heart can’t break any harder…— Glenna Milberg (@GlennaWPLG) July 2, 2021
“Miami firefighter there to recover his own daughter killed in Surfside building collapse”
Initial reports stated that the girl's identity was unknown. However, the latest update by Local10 states that the deceased child's name is Stella Cattarossi. The daughter of the 10-year veteran Miami firefighter, was at Champlain Towers South with her mother, grandparents, and aunt when the northeastern side collapsed. The firefighter father was not a part of the search and rescue team. “When he was made aware that we were close to where his loved one may have been, then he stood side by side with some of his other fellow firefighters,” Capt. Ignatius “Iggy” Carroll, a spokesman for the department said.
This is 7-year-old Stella Cattarossi & her mother Graciela. Her body was recovered from the rubble in #Surfside last night. Her father, a @CityofMiamiFire firefighter, was there to assist in her removal. Her mom & other family members are still missing. May she Rest In Peace 💔🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/FOIINylyMX— Guadalupe Monarrez (@lupemonarrez) July 2, 2021
“We were able to bring her and then at least give him an opportunity to say his farewells.” Witnesses then mentioned that the team of first responders escorted him and a group of police officers and firefighters lined up on the roadway. “Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrific tragedy,” Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said. “We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his 7-year-old daughter in the collapse. She was recovered last night by members of our Urban Search and Rescue Team, Florida Task Force 2. We ask that you respect the privacy of the immediate family as well as our Fire Department family while we grieve our loss and support our own.”
I apologize for not posting as often as I should. It’s been so busy here in Surfside. Crews continuing their painstaking work as family members and friends pray for a miracle. Laura Hernandez and a friend sat down to remember Graciella Cattarossi and her 7 yr old daughter Stella. pic.twitter.com/a2XTZBPv4b— Madeleine Rivera (@madeleinerivera) June 30, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the girl’s death during the briefing, saying that “these are tough things” for the workers to deal with. “Obviously we focus on the families and rightfully so, but our folks have gone through a lot that is out there,” the governor said. According to TODAY, Elad Eldri, the deputy commander of an Israeli team working at the site, said that once the little girl's body had been taken away, the rescuers embraced and cried.
The body of the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter who was found Thursday has been identified as Stella Cattarossi.— Wake Up America! Podcast (@PTNewsnetwork) July 3, 2021
In a heart-wrenching development, the girl’s body was found in the rubble Thursday while her father was among the #7yearoldhttps://t.co/0qOaT6unbH pic.twitter.com/ExycNhrl75
Mayor Levine Cava then commended the first responders who have been working tirelessly to free stranded people. “They truly represent the very best in all of us and we need to be there for them as they are here for us,” she said. According to BBC, no one has been pulled out alive, ever since the search and rescue operations began. What really caused the 40-year-old building to collapse is unclear, but a 2018 inspection warned there were "major" design flaws in the original plan.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava was reported as saying to CNN, "Crews recovered another body in the rubble overnight Monday into Tuesday, bringing the total number of victims to 95, and another 14 people are still unaccounted for. So far, 85 of the victims have been identified and 85 next of kin have been notified."
As the death toll, as of July 14, in the Surfside condo collapse nears 100, officials said security at the location will be tightened, with only authorized personnel allowed at the site in the near future.