Shortly before the demolition of what remains of Champlain Towers South, a woman went to the courts to try to save a stranded pet. This last ditch attempt did not work.
On Sunday, the eleventh day of rescue efforts since the collapse, the controlled demolition of the rest of Champlain Towers South took place at 10:30 p.m., ahead of affects from Tropical Storm Elsa possibly hitting the area.
At 9:30 p.m., Attorney Paula Phillips petitioned the court, presided by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman, to allow her client Stacey Karron to go into what remains of the building to get a pet before the demolition is done.
“They understand the risk,” Phillips said. “They understand the building can come down at anytime.”
Judge Hanzman is handling several initial lawsuits stemming from the Surfside collapse. So far, at least five lawsuits have been filed against the condo association for the collapse, which at least 24 people have been killed in with more than 121 people still unaccounted for.
In the emergency motion filed, it stated Karron knew of an animal trapped in her apartment, who was a rescue and emotional support pet for its owner. Karron would have released any person from liability if she would have injured herself trying to get the pet.
Karron, 57, is a paralegal from Broward County who works on a volunteer basis rescuing animals. Reached by phone late Sunday, she said was trying to rescue any pets left behind in the building.
“My goal was just to go down there and try and rescue any pets if I was allowed,” said Karron as she drove home from Surfside. “I have experience with animal rescue and I volunteered to go in.”
Karron said she had been unable to speak directly with any homeowners who had left their pets behind.
“Nobody came forward. I guess they didn’t want to go back in the building. It was too traumatizing,” she said.
The name of the pet in question was not said in the hearing or the motion, but it may be a cat named Coco who lived on a fourth floor apartment with a 89-year-old woman and her daughter. Firefighters tried to rescue Coco, but could not.
Miami-Dade County Attorney Dave Murray starkly opposed the motion.
“This is not a case where the county has sat on their hands,” Murray said.
At the moment of the hearing, Murray said the building was loaded with explosives and in order for Karron to go back in rescue crews would have to further risk their lives by checking on said explosives.
He went on to say that it could also pose a risk to the surrounding community as well.
Since partial collapse of Champlain Towers South, several efforts have been by the county to rescue any surviving animals, Murray said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava had stressed during earlier briefings that no pets were found as rescuers made thorough searches through the remaining building, including three full sweeps, using animal life traps and thermal technology.
Judge Hanzman ultimately denied the motion emphasizing it is not the courts prerogative to second guess the decisions of authorities handling the tragedy.
“Despite these Herculean efforts and the tireless, daunting work that has been done, there is going to be loss of life here,” Hanzman said. “Loss of human life and animal life.”