"Voice in the rubble" victim of Surfside condo collapse is identified
Who was the voice in the rubble? That question was one of the heartbreaking mysteries of the Surfside building collapse.
A review by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has found that it was Theresa Velasquez, a 36-year-old music industry executive from Los Angeles, who was visiting her parents at the Champlain Towers South on the night of the collapse, according to a memo obtained by CBS Miami.
Her parents - Julio, 67, and Angela, 60 - also died.
Theresa Velasquez's brother, David, said he accepts the findings of the fire department's investigation. "There's no way to know 100 percent," he told CBS Miami, "but it seems like the logical conclusion."
According to Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Ray Jadallah's 11-page memo, Velasquez survived the initial collapse, but rescue workers were unable to reach her before she died.
Theresa Velasquez / Credit: CBS Miami
In the April 25 memo sent to Fire Chief Alan Cominsky, Jadallah notes that his findings were based on more than two months of interviews with the crews working to free Velasquez.
The report seeks to refute the findings of a USA Today investigation published in December, which identified the voice in the rubble as 14-year-old Valeria Barth. The report also dismisses claims that Valeria was burned to death by the actions of rescue teams when firefighters accidentally set fire to the room where the teenager was trapped.
There were questions from the start about whether anyone was heard alive in the rubble. Jadallah and others initially denied that a voice was heard. The department later admitted that for the first few hours a voice could be heard behind a thick concrete slab that had crashed into the underground parking lot.
The workers in the underground garage all agreed that the voice was female.
Some firefighters believed the voice said she was in Unit 204, the unit where Valeria resided with her parents, Luis Fernando Barth and Catalina Gomez. They had traveled together from Colombia to Miami a month before the collapse.
Other firefighters said the voice said it was in Unit 304, which is owned by Theresa Velasquez's parents.
The report states, "...it was a challenge to hear the woman."
"One rescuer stated that when they asked the victim if she was dating someone else, the female voice replied that she was visiting her parents (paraphrased)," the report reads. "This statement correlates with reports from Theresa Velasquez's family, which indicate that Ms. Velasquez visited her parents from California and stayed with them in apartment #304. In contrast to Ms. Barth, who was accompanied by her parents from Colombia and lived in an apartment #204."
"According to rescue workers, 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 continues. "All the rescuers unanimously declared ... [the voice] had no accent."
The report notes that Valeria's uncle said the teenager's primary language is Spanish "but she can speak English" and has a distinct Spanish accent.
The story goes on
Victoria Beckham defends her 'disciplined' diet after husband David said she's exclusively eaten the same meal for 25 years
John Bolton discusses the Jan. 6 hearings and former President Donald Trump's future
John Bolton weighs in on war in Ukraine
Florida says Ben & Jerry’s change ‘step in right direction’
Baltimore cops used a police helicopter to order swimmers out of a city pool. A city councilman called the incident 'totally excessive.'
‘Magnum P.I.’ Saved by NBC! Star Zachary Knighton Reacts (Exclusive)