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Aguero family shares Surfside survival story a year after condo collapse

Couple that survived Surfside building collapse shares their stories on one-year mark
Couple that survived Surfside building collapse shares their stories on one-year mark 04:50

MIAMI - A couple is sharing their survival story nearly one year after the Surfside building collapse. 

Janette and Albert Aguero narrowly escaped Champlain Towers South early that morning on June 24th, 2021. They were staying in a family-owned unit, 1106, nearly 15 feet away from the side of the building that collapsed.

Albert and Janette were with their two children, who were awake when part of the structure came down. Albert told CBS 4, "I can still visualize concrete walls looking like Jell-O."

Albert thought it was an explosion. His son thought a plane crashed into the building. When Albert went out onto the balcony first responders told them to get out if they could. He said, "I got up, I went to the living room and looked out the balcony. It looked like we were enveloped in smoke."

The Aguero family left the unit with just the clothes on their backs. As they exited into the hall they saw the two elevator shafts, as just gaping holes and the apartment unit next door to them was sheared in half. Aguero said it all started to hit him as they were walking down the stairs. He told CBS 4, "I think that's when it really hit me because that wall partially collapsed, and I could see the ocean at that point."

The family of four made it out to the beach in 10 minutes. That's when Janette picked up the phone and called her mother-in-law. She said, "The first thing out of my mouth is the building fell... and she's like what? And I'm hysterical because I'm looking at an entire building in shambles. The whole back of it was just gone... And you know you walked into that building seeing those people, seeing children playing at the pool, seeing kids having fun at the beach...it was gone...it was gone."

Shortly after the sun came up people gathered at the community center. That's where Janette says the survivors guilt started to sink in. She said, "You just wish you didn't exist. You wish you could disappear. Vanish. Because nothing I could say here it's going to make you feel any better."

The family currently lives in a mid-rise building outside of New York City. To this day they are still haunted by the sights and sounds of that night. "There isn't a night I go to sleep that I don't think what if it happened again. There isn't a moment I don't put my head down on a pillow and think my daughters how far away for me? How quickly can we get out of here?", Janette said.

The Agueros did help an elderly woman out of the building that night. They keep in touch with her.

They told us they will not be coming down Friday for the one-year service, because they don't feel it's right.  

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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