Victims of Florida condominium collapse remembered

·3 min read

By Andy Sullivan and Linda So

MIAMI (Reuters) - A couple married for nearly 60 years. A devoted father who spent his days on the baseball field with his young son. A mother whose teenage son was one of the few known survivors.

As rescuers continue searching through the rubble for anyone still alive after a Florida condominium collapsed in the early hours of Thursday, killing at least nine, details are emerging of those who lost their lives.

Antonio Lozano, 83 and his 79-year-old wife Gladys were three weeks shy of celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary. The couple would joke about who would die first because they didn’t want to live without each other, their son, Sergio, told local media.

Sergio Lozano said he had dinner with his parents in their eighth-floor apartment just hours before the disaster. After returning to his own home across the street, he woke up to a loud rumble around 1 a.m. and saw from his balcony that his parents' building had fallen down.

Lozano told Miami ABC affiliate WPLG he said to his wife, "My parents' apartment is not there, it's gone!" before running downstairs.

According to family members, the Lozanos were avid donors to non-profit organizations.

“Their souls were truly beautiful and are now blessed,” Brian Lozano, their grandson, told ABC News in a statement.

Others killed in the disaster, in which more than 150 people remain missing, included parents who leave behind young children.

Manuel LaFont, 54, was a business consultant who also coached Little League and spent many days on the baseball field with his 10-year-old son.

The father of two, known as Manny, was devoted to helping kids become better players, according to Danny Berry, who runs the Miami Beach Youth Baseball League, where LaFont coached.

Berry said the league would be meeting on Monday to decide on the best way to commemorate LaFont and help his children.

"We want to dedicate something to him, a batting cage or something," Berry said.

LaFont's ex-wife, Adriana, confirmed his death on Facebook, writing, “So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart! My Manny, who was my partner for so many years, father of my children, who scolds me and loves me at the same time.”

Stacie Fang, 54, was the mother of one of the few people known to have survived the collapse. Her son, Jonah Handler, 15, a student at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, was pulled from the wreckage hours after the collapse after being spotted by a passerby.

Fang was vice president at a firm that puts on an annual event for customer relationship management, retail and marketing executives, according to her LinkedIn account. A former resident of New York City’s Staten Island, she was a graduate of Pace University.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie," her family said in a statement.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan in Miami and Linda So in Washington; Additional reporting by Julia Harte; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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