Firefighter who pulled daughter, 7, from Surfside rubble files wrongful death suit

Stella Cattarossi
Stella Cattarossi

The Florida firefighter who recovered the remains of his 7-year-old daughter from the rubble of the Surfside collapse has filed a wrongful death lawsuit accusing building officials of ignoring that the tower was in disrepair.

Enrique Arango’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, names multiple companies “involved in the ownership, maintenance, restoration, management, inspection and oversight of the building,” according to The Sun Sentinel.

The suit alleged that officials knew about “deplorable conditions” at the building, including seawater in the garage, for years before the tragedy. It seeks unspecified damages, the report said.

Arango, a Miami fireman, worked frantically at the disaster site to try and rescue his daughter, who lived with her mother and grandparents in Champlain Towers South’s unit 501, according to the filing, obtained by the Sun Sentinel.

He learned of the early morning June 24 catastrophe at 1:30 a.m., and raced to the scene, the suit said.

“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,” the court documents read.

The body of the girl — identified by local media as Stella Cattarossi — was pulled from the rubble on July 1.

Arango reportedly used his jacket to cover her body, placed a small US flag over her and carried her out of the area.

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 26, 2021
The suit claims officials overseeing the building were previously aware of the condo’s “deplorable conditions.”
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

At least 98 people were killed in the disaster, according to officials.

A 2018 engineering report that found structural deficiencies in the building is now the focus of several investigations.


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