Teen girl's surprising message to rescuers as she was saved from rubble of Miami condo after plunging four floors

A TEENAGER was so traumatized after plunging four floors when the Miami condo collapsed that she told rescuers she had a major tournament coming up as she was pulled from the wreckage.

Rising volleyball star Deven Gonzalez, 16, and her mom were on the ninth floor of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside when it collapsed on June 24 – with her dad still missing amongst the rubble.


Amid the shock of falling, the teen's initial reaction as firefighters rushed to help her was to tell them she was supposed to be competing in an important match in a few days.

Before the devastating collapse – which has left at least 27 people dead – Deven's world revolved around volleyball.

She played beach volleyball on her high school team and with a competitive travel club team.

From her hospital bed, where she’s undergone multiple surgeries for a broken femur, she apologized profusely to her coach for missing their final practice.

“I said, ‘Let’s focus on you right now and not volleyball,’” club coach Amy Morgan said, who described Gonzalez as "extremely determined, passionate and unrelenting" in pursuing her goals.

The teen lived with her parents on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South. She and her mother, Angela Gonzalez, fell several stories before being rescued on the fifth floor, she told her coach.

Her mother was among the survivors pulled from the rubble and is still hospitalized with serious injuries, Morgan told The Associated Press.


But her father, attorney Edgar Gonzalez, is among the more than 120 still missing.

“I don’t know if she’s completely come to terms with everything. She has and she hasn’t,” Morgan added.

“She says, ‘My dad’s still missing. My dad’s still missing,'

"She gets really choked up about it.”

The teen has taken her first few steps as she recovers from the horrific incident.

“It’s going to be a nasty, hard painful road, but I think she can do it,” Morgan said.

Her recovery comes amid reports that an official warned that the building needed urgent repair work – just three days before part of it collapsed.

The warning came as search and rescue operations resumed after the remaining part of the 12-story apartment block was demolished on Sunday.

Emails obtained by the Miami Herald show building manager Scott Stewart reminding officials that he needed approval for work to go ahead.


He said: “As we are out to bid on our project [we] need to get to answers to these questions.

“This is holding us up and cost [sic] are going up and out [sic] 40 years is coming up fast.”

Director of the Surfside building department James McGuinness reportedly responded to the emails on June 23 – just 14 hours before the condo came down.

Under Miami-Dade law, buildings that are 40 years old must undergo inspections.

It comes amid reports that the condo may have been built using less reinforced steel.

Expert Allyn E. Kilsheimer said the amount of steel used to connect concrete slabs to columns below the parking deck may have been less than specified in the original plans, the New York Times reports.

It is not known if the potential deficiency caused the building to fall, killing at least 27 people.

Engineers said there were three damaged columns in the western part of the condo that was still standing.

It’s reported that they were supposed to be connected with eight rods of reinforcing steel but the number appears to be less.

The remaining portion of the condo was demolished on Sunday amid fears that Storm Elsa could hinder search and rescue progress.

Explosions were heard at about 10.30pm ET before the building started to fall.

The move was a key step to resuming the search for victims as rescuers try to gain access to new areas of the rubble.

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