Fabián Núñez, 55, Andrés Galfrascoli, 45, and their 6-year-old daughter Sofía, were only supposed to stay in Champlain towers for one night.
They were visiting from Argentina, and had come to Miami for around three months to escape the pandemic, which had been worsening back home.
They were staying with Nicolás Patoka, a long-time friend of the couple from back home who had been living in Miami for almost a decade. Pakota’s home is in Hollywood, roughly 40 minutes north of Champlain Towers.
As the search continues, here are the names of missing and dead in Surfside condo collapse
But the couple wanted a break in their routine. So Pakota offered his friends his apartment in Surfside, so they could take their daughter to enjoy a day at the condominium’s private beach. Now, the couple and their daughter are among the 156 people missing after the Surfside collapse, and Pakota told Argentine newspaper Clarín that the decision haunts him.
“I wish we had told them no,” Patoka said, on the verge of tears. “They weren’t just friends, they were family.”
Pakota told Clarín that his father had dropped the family off at the unit. But he’d left at around 9pm, because the couple wanted to sleep so that they could wake up early to take their daughter to the beach. That was the idea, Pakota said. But they haven’t heard from the couple since the building disappeared into a charred mass of broken concrete and twisted metal early Thursday morning.
Núñez is a well-known theater producer back in Argentina, whose social circle includes Argentine celebrities like television actor Nicolás Vázquez and ballet dancer Flavio Mendoza. Galfrascoli–originally from the province of Corrientes– is a prominent plastic surgeon back home. He, too, has a number of Argentine celebrities as both patients and friends. Among others, he is close friends with Fabiola Yañez, the current first lady of Argentina, who he’s known for over a decade.
But in spite of their proximity to celebrity, the couple’s friends describe them as kind, loving, generous people who always made everyone feel welcome and who loved their young daughter more than anything.
“He was just the best person,” Alicia Aguilar de Caba, one of Galfrascoli’s patients, told the Miami Herald. Even though he had famous clients and was somewhat famous himself, de Caba said, he was always friendly and kind to his patients regardless of how much they could pay.
“During our appointments, he’d never miss a chance to laugh and joke with me about Corrientes, where my husband is also from,” said de Caba. He would also always speak about his family during appointments, deCaba added, especially his daughter Sofía, who he clearly loved very much.
“That girl was their dream,” Pakota told Clarín. “They are such humble and good people who never had anything in life handed to them. It would be impossible to explain how much they had to fight to have their little angel, and now she’s also missing.” Pakota added that the couple was trying to have another child soon– a younger sibling for little Sofiía.
“All of us who knew him are in shock. I still can’t believe it. We’re all praying for a miracle,” de Caba added. “I can’t believe that it’s true. Just thinking about it makes my blood run cold. It seems impossible. Every time I wake up he and his family are the first thing I think about and every time I hope it was all a bad dream.”