In the first hours after the collapse of Champlain Towers South, Stacie Fang and her teenage son were among the few people pulled alive from the rubble in dramatic rescue.
Though her son survived, Fang would later die of her injuries. Her family has now filed a lawsuit against the building’s condo association — one of the latest in over a dozen filed against the association since the 12-story Surfside condo collapsed suddenly on June 24, killing at least 64 people and leaving dozens still missing.
Fang, 54, was the first victim identified by authorities in the days after the disaster. She lived in the building with her son, 15-year-old Jonah Handler, a 10th grade junior varsity baseball player at Monsignor Edward Pace High School.
The two, who lived in a unit on the 10th floor, had been awakened by the rumbling in the building. According to the lawsuit filed on Thursday, “the two sat side by side in his room when their entire condo unit collapsed.”
“They free-fell to what they thought was certain death. Stacie and Jonah landed several floors below and miraculously were still alive. First responders arrived at the scene and used Air Jacks to remove Jonah from the carnage. Jonah lived, but with devastating injuries,” the lawsuit said.
Stacie Fang, however, did not survive. Jonah was one of the few survivors pulled from the rubble of the devastating collapse. Firefighters, with the help of a good Samaritan, pulled him out alive, a rescue captured on video later released by authorities.
The good Samaritan, Nicholas Balboa, told the media that he was walking his dog when the tower fell and he heard Jonah’s cries. He saw the teen’s hand jutting from the rubble.
“There was a bed frame and a mattress that were laying above him, so I could only assume that that was his bed, judging by the size of the mattress,” Balboa said, according to WPLG-ABC10.
“The lawsuit was filed by Kevin Fang, her brother, and Neil Handler, the teen’s father, acting as his son’s guardian.
The complaint cites the now-infamous 2018 engineers report, commissioned by the condo board, that chronicled “major and widespread structural damage” in the nearly four-decades old building. The condo association “knew that the building was structurally unsound, unsafe, and at grave risk of collapse,” according to the lawsuit by the Miami firm Goldberg & Rosen.
Jonah suffered “pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expenses of hospitalization, medical and nursing care treatment [and] aggravation or acceleration of pre-existing injury,” the suit said.
The lawsuit was filed by Miami attorneys Todd Rosen and Judd Rosen, who led lawsuits against Shuckers Bar & Grill, the North Bay Village restaurant where a deck collapsed in 2013, tossing dozens into Biscayne Bay.