Tragic firefighter who pulled body of daughter, 7, from Surfside condo rubble files wrongful death lawsuit
A MIAMI firefighter whose own seven-year-old daughter died in the tragic Champlain Towers collapse is now suing building officials who he argues ignored signs that the condo was in disrepair leading up to the disaster.
Enrique Arango was working on the rescue operation at the collapse site when the body of his daughter, Stella Cattarossi, was pulled from the wreckage.
Four other members of his family, including Stella’s mom Graciela Cattarossi, her grandparents Gino and Graciela, and her aunt Andrea were also tragically killed in the collapse.
Now, Arango is suing the Champlain Towers South condominium association, as well as multiple companies “involved in the ownership, maintenance, restoration, management, inspection and oversight of the building,” according to documents obtained by The Sun-Sentinel.
According to the lawsuit, the companies knew of the “deplorable conditions” at the building, including water building up in the garage, but took no action.
Court documents also tell how Arango heard of the collapse at 1:30 am on June 24 while he was at the fire station on duty.
“He stood motionless waiting for the live feed to reveal the extent of the collapse, hoping the unit that housed his daughter was still standing. Tragically, it was not,” it reads.
Arango and his brother, also a firefighter, worked at the rescue site for seven days afterwards.
“Racing against the clock, they worked vigorously in the hopes that their efforts would assist in finding his daughter before it was too late.”
Stella was pulled from the rubble on July 1.
Arango wrapped her body in his jacket and placed a small American flag on her gurney as she was carried out, according to a witness.
Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said of Stella’s death, “Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrific tragedy.
“We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his seven-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.”
Graciela Cattarossi had been living with her parents at the Champlain Towers South ever since Stella was born, according to a GoFundMe set up by family members.
The Uruguayan consul confirmed that the older Graciela was an Uruguayan diplomat in the 1960’s.
Meanwhile, Andrea was visiting from Argentina at the time of the collapse.
The death toll of the disaster now stands at 98 as the search for survivors has come to an end.
Miami Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed in a press release on July 26 that all missing victims have been located and all families have been notified.
A shocking video showing ominous cracks in the building’s walls reemerged after the disaster.
The video, which was taken by a prospective buyer, shows cracks that seem to have been painted over and water puddles in the ceiling of the parking garage.
And a newly unearthed 1996 construction permit has revealed the building’s pool deck 25 years before the collapse.