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Florida collapse survivor, 88, weeps during reunion with rescuer

Florida collapse survivor, 88, weeps during reunion with rescuer

An emotional 88-year-old survivor of the deadly Florida building collapse thanked the man who carried her to safety in a tearful reunion last week.

“He just picked me up,” Esther Gorfinkle recalled as she met savior Alfredo Lopez on Friday for the first time since the June 24 tragedy, according to CNN.

“I’m so happy,” Gorfinkle told Lopez through tears. “Up there, somebody’s watching.”

Gorfinkle had been asleep in her fifth-floor unit at Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside that fated Thursday morning when “all of a sudden, I hear, ‘Boom!’ and my apartment is shaking,” she told the network.

Lopez, a sixth-floor resident who was fleeing with his family, saw his elderly neighbor struggling to get down the stairs to safety.

“I remember Esther told me that her knee was bothering her and she wanted to stop,” he said. “I told her stopping is not an option.”

So he picked her up and carried her down the stairs.

“I don’t know how many flights of stairs,” he said.

But they weren’t out of the woods yet — they hit an obstacle in the flooded garage.

“There was one car that was pancaked on top of another car that was pancaked on top of a huge slab of concrete,” Lopez said. “We gave her like the old one-two. We pushed her up and we got out of the garage.”

Esther Gorfinkle had been asleep in her fifth-floor unit at Champlain Towers South Condo when the building collapsed.
Esther Gorfinkle had been asleep in her fifth-floor unit at Champlain Towers South Condo when the building collapsed.
WPLG Local 10 News

Gorfinkle, Lopez, and his family eventually made it out of the complex to safety.

“Esther, it just wasn’t our time, you know?” Lopez told Gorfinkle at their reunion.

The grandma replied, “I know I’m lucky.

“Very lucky to be here with my family, thank God,” she said.

Officials said 24 people have been confirmed dead in the tragic collapse, with 121 still missing.

About the author

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James Partridge

James has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Stock Market Pioneer one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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