Erick de Moura should have been sleeping inside his Champlain Towers South apartment when the 130-unit condominium building collapsed early Thursday morning.
Instead, the 40-year-old Brazil native told Reuters that his girlfriend’s powers of persuasion are the reason the couple was drifting off to sleep less than two miles from the engineering disaster that has claimed at least 11 lives, while search and rescue crews scour the rubble for the 150 people who remain unaccounted for.
“It’s a very sad moment, very confusing. It’s very tough to get in touch with my emotions right now,” de Moura told the outlet during an interview near the site Saturday.
Specifically, de Moura told Reuters that his plan - like most weeknights - had been to leave Fernanda Figueiredo’s home after dinner with friends while watching a soccer match, followed by a pick-up game.
“That night was unusual. I was going to leave Fernanda’s house to go home and take a shower and die,” de Moura later told The Washington Post.
Instead, Figueiredo, 47, insisted he stay and threw his clothes - soaked after he retrieved a soccer ball from a canal in her backyard - in the dryer while he showered there, the Post reported.
De Moura told the newspaper that he woke several hours later to a missed call and text from Rochelle, a doorman supervisor at Champlain Towers South in nearby Surfside, Fla., asking if he was okay and explaining the chaos he had averted.
“I had goosebumps. My heart was pounding. I got dressed and rushed to the building,” de Moura told Reuters, noting that his neighbors were friendly people and the building had a welcoming, worldly atmosphere.
“We saw each other in the elevator, sometimes helped carry a box,” he told the outlet. “These people are dead. For us, on the other side, we are glad to be alive.”
De Moura later told the Post that he is still attempting to process his near-death experience, noting not a single person who lived in the units directly above or below his 10th-floor condo has been found alive.
“For me, for Fernanda, this is definitely a miracle. This is an act by God,” he said.
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