Woman with NJ ties first death in Surfside, FL building collapse
A 54-year-old woman with family ties to Middlesex County was the first of nine confirmed deaths in the harrowing high-rise collapse in Florida, as of Sunday morning.
Stacie Dawn Fang died of her injuries at a local hospital after being pulled from the wreckage of the building in Surfside late Thursday, according to Miami-Dade Police.
Her teen son, Jonah Handler, was rescued and is recovering after a passing pedestrian saw his fingers wiggling from the rubble, as reported by the Associated Press.
Fang's body was flown to New Jersey and she was laid to rest in New Brunswick on Sunday, as reported by NBC New York.
Handler's high school also shared a statement, confirming the sophomore was being treated after being pulled from the tower site.
Fang was a resident of New Jersey at some point, according to published reports, while she also previously lived on Staten Island and graduated from Pace University in Manhattan, as reported by the Staten Island Advance.
Four more bodies were recovered from the rubble Saturday overnight into Sunday, officials said at a news briefing, bringing the death toll to at least nine.
Other confirmed victims of the 12-story building collapse include a married couple — 83-year-old Antonio Lozano and 79-year-old Gladys Lozano; and 54-year-old Manuel LaFont, according to police.
Among the nearly 100 people still missing since the collapse was a young Lakewood couple.
Benny and Malky Weisz, had been visiting Harry Rosenberg, Malky Weisz’s father, as first reported by The Lakewood Scoop and later confirmed by one of New Jersey’s congressmen.
Search crews had found another body at the Champlain Towers site as of Saturday, raising the death toll to five, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced.
"This is a rescue operation not recovery. People have survived for days under rubble," U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. 4th District, said in a written statement on Friday.
Smith also said he had reached out to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, to “urge that an apparent offer by an Israeli search and rescue team be seriously considered and accepted.”
Human remains recovered from the collapse were being sent to the medical examiner, as first responders continued gathering DNA samples from family members of those unaccounted for in the disaster.
(Includes material Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. With previous reporting by Dan Alexander.)