1 week after Surfside tragedy, families mourn & remember

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jackie Winchester
Gladys and Antonio Lozano (Photo courtesy of Sergio Lozano)

One week after a high-rise condo building partially collapsed in Surfside near Miami, we’re learning a lot more about the victims and their families.

Eighteen people have been confirmed dead and more than 140 are still unaccounted for. The families of these people are hurting, but also determined.

We know, of course, that everyone reacts differently to grief, and for some of the families who are mourning, they find peace in sharing their loved ones’ stories.

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While President Joe Biden visited Surfside on Thursday, Sergio Lozano spent the day reflecting on his parents’ American dream. Gladys and Antonio Lozano met when they were 12 and 14, respectively, and came to America for a better life.

“Services are tomorrow and I’ll lay them to rest Saturday, both of them together, how they wanted to go,” an emotional Sergio said.

The elderly couple, who would have celebrated their 59th anniversary in July, died together in the tower collapse. (Courtesy of Sergio Lozano)

Gladys and Antonio were among the first bodies found in the rubble that used to be Champlain Towers South, and their bodies were found together.

“And I had one question….are my parents’ body complete or do I have body parts?”

Perhaps, Lozano believes, the only thing more painful than that moment would be the alternative of not knowing where your people are or if they’re at peace.

Hours before Biden arrived in Surfside, news broke that search and rescue operations had to halt out of fear that the rest of the structure could come down.

Taking in a nearby memorial, Peggy Juan couldn’t help but think of all the families, all the anguish.

“I know how it feels because my son passed away about seven years ago. It’s a loss you never ever get through … and there’s hope and we’ll get through it but we’ll never forget,” she said.

Lozano said he wasn’t personally invited to Biden’s remarks so he did not attend. He said while he would have been honored to share his parents’ story with the president, he said he is just as honored to share it with all of you.

His father bussed tables and loaded trucks when they first came to America, no money to their name. They had eight family members living in a three-bedroom home for many years, so in many ways, finally living in the Champlain Towers, where they ultimately died, symbolized their American dream come true.

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