6 months after the Surfside collapse, one rescuer has a message for families

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
A search and rescue team members dig through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

Six months, 183 days have passed since the pile, the pictures, the prayer, and all the pain that came with the Surfside condo collapse.

“It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. But then again, it doesn’t feel like… it feels like it has been longer. It’s a weird feeling. I guess. I remember bits and pieces,” said Shane Sibert.

Sibert is the guy in charge of Task Force 6, Southwest Florida’s very own search and rescue team, and the third team to arrive in Surfside that dark day; June 24, 2021.

After all this time, Sibert said one memory sticks out.

Stella Cattarossi, 7-years old. Sibert and his team helped find her little body. Her father was a firefighter for Miami Dade County.

“The father of the daughter was right beside us working on the pile. A lot of us didn’t realize that he was there, and I would be too I’m a father, I would have been right next to the crews working. As they walked her body down, to where the medical examiner was, everyone lined up. Helmets were off, and heads were down and they stood in attention. So just because I think they just knew that was that’s what we do.”

Few people do what they do. Few people saw that pile up close, heard it, smelled it, but Sibert did and hopes if you hear one thing he said on the six-month mark, Christmas Eve, it’s this.

“I’ve had some near misses, you know, with cancer, etc. So spend your time with your families because you just never know. Time is short. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t say oh, I’ll come see you. I meant to come see you last week. I didn’t do it. Just make the time, do it. Spend time with your family, your loved ones. And my gosh, if anything, tell them you love them. My kids are grown and still to this day, they hug me and they tell me they love me before they leave so and that that was taught to me by my dad. So love your family, because you just never know what tomorrow has in store for any of us. Your number could be up.”

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