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A year after Surfside condo collapse, Fla. cops reflect on the search for survivors

It’s an assignment that has stuck with Officer Adrian Gonzalez to this day


Photo/Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

By Suzie Ziegler

SURFSIDE, Fla. — This week marks one year since a Florida condo collapsed on June 24, 2021, killing 98 people. The tragedy required a massive response from public safety to help sort through the rubble to find survivors.

Now, as the anniversary approaches, one officer is reflecting on his response during that tragic event.

Bal Harbour Officer Adrian Gonzalez says he’s seen a lot of horror as a police officer, according to NBC Miami. But nothing could have prepared him for the Surfside condo collapse. Gonzalez was assigned to be the intake person for survivors and family members looking for their loved ones, the report said.

“I was the first point of contact between the survivors, the survivors’ families and the command post,” Gonzalez told NBC Miami. “It became very personal really quick.”

Gonzalez said he couldn’t help but to compare the survivors to his own family.

“I thought about my own family, my own kids and how there’s a lot of times … I don’t anymore … [that] I would take the family time for granted,” Gonzalez said. “I hug my kids and my wife a little tighter.”

Gonzalez says he was inspired to just help as many people as he could.

“There are situations that call for you to be a superhero, to be brave and you rise to that occasion. This was different. This was a situation where you humble yourself,” Gonzalez said.

It’s an assignment that has stuck with him to this day. And Gonzalez isn’t the only one

Sgt. Braxton McClams and Officer Erica Blanco, also of the Bal Harbour Police Department, described a sense of hopelessness. Watch their interview with NBC Miami below as they discuss their experience working at the collapse site.

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