Officials finally identify ‘voice in the rubble’ in Surfside condo collapse


The woman whose voice was heard from the rubble of a horrific apartment collapse in Surfside, Florida, has been identified as a 36-year-old entertainment industry executive from Los Angeles, authorities said.

Theresa Velasquez was heard calling after the Champlain Towers’ initial collapse on June 24, 2021, but rescuers were unable to reach her before she died, according to an 11-page Miami Dade Fire Rescue memo obtained by CBS Miami.

His body was found on July 8.

Velasquez had just flown to Miami from LAX the night of the collapse to visit his parents, Julio, 67, and Angela, 60, also deceased.

His brother, David, said he accepted the findings of the investigation into the so-called “voice in the rubble”.

“There’s no way to know 100% but that seems to be the logical conclusion,” he told the outlet.

The memo, written by Deputy Fire Chief Raied Jadallah, refutes a December 2021 report from the Palm Beach Post and USA Today that identified the victim as 14-year-old Valeria Barth, who had traveled to Miami with her Colombian parents. to get vaccinated against COVID-19. .

Theresa Velasquez was a 36-year-old entertainment industry executive from Los Angeles.

Jadallah’s memo also refutes claims that Valeria was burned to death after firefighters accidentally set fire to the room where she was trapped.

The misidentification of Valeria as the person overheard in the wreckage was partly based on the fact that a rescuer overheard the person say she was in Unit 204, the apartment where the girl and her parents were staying.

However, other rescuers said they heard the trapped person say he was in Unit 304, the unit where Velasquez’s parents lived.

Angela Maria Velasquez and Julio Velasquez go out for dinner.
Velasquez had flown to Miami the night of the collapse to visit her parents, Angela and Julio, also deceased.

Additionally, Valeria’s uncle, Sergio Barth, told Jadallah that the girl had a “very distinct high-pitched voice that couldn’t be confused,” the Miami Herald reported.

“According to rescuers, the voice was that of an adult female whose English appeared to be that of an English speaker with native sentence syntax and excellent vocabulary,” the report said.

“All the rescuers unanimously said… [the voice] didn’t have an accent,” the report adds, which notes that Sergio said his niece’s primary language was Spanish “but she can speak English” with an accent.

Rescuers are working in the area where Velasquez was found.
A rescue worker said he heard the “voice in the rubble” say she was in Unit 204, where the Velasquez were staying.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue

At a news conference on July 1, 2021, Cominsky said rescuers heard “audible sounds” of a woman during their initial search under the crumbling remains of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo.

He made the comments after local media reported that rescuers heard banging on a wall and then a woman pleading for help on the day of the collapse.

“Everyone who was there, that’s what we’re trying to do, get this lady out and comfort her. … She was asking for help and she was begging to be taken out of there,” a first responder told WPLG at the time.

In this Friday, June 25, 2021, file photo, rescue workers work in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo, in Surfside, Florida.
Velasquez’s brother David accepts the findings of the so-called “voice in the rubble” investigation.
AP/Gerald Herbert

“We spoke with her continuously. … ‘Honey, we got you. We will join you,” said the rescuer, who asked to remain anonymous.

Velasquez, who worked for music events company LiveNation in Los Angeles for six years, began his music career in 2004, deejaying in clubs around Miami under the name DJ Theresa, the Miami Herald reported.

She has also traveled around the world, including gigs at Circuit Festival in Barcelona and SuperMartxe in Madrid – and has also worked for Sony Music and SFX Entertainment, according to the outlet.

Rescue teams use jackhammers to chip away at debris and rubble as they continue to search for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo building in Surfside, Florida.
Rescuers reportedly heard a woman banging on a wall and pleading for help on the day of the collapse.
Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP

Velasquez is a graduate of Georgetown University and earned a master’s degree in music business from New York University, he added.

Her older brother, David, described her at a memorial service as the coolest person he had ever met.

“Effortlessly cool. A planet with its own gravity where people got caught in its orbit,” he said, according to the Herald.

“She knew how to do everything well, an absolute force of nature.”


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