‘Voice in the rubble’ victim of Surfside condo collapse identified as music executive Theresa Velasquez by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue

Who was the voice in the rubble? That question is one of the heartbreaking mysteries of the… Surfside building collapse

A review by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue concluded that it was: Theresa Velasqueza 36-year-old Los Angeles music industry executive who visited her parents in the Champlain Towers South on the night of the collapse, according to a memo obtained by CBS Miami.

Her parents – Julio, 67 and Angela, 60 – also died.

Theresa Velasquez’s brother, David, said he accepts the findings of the fire investigation investigation. “There’s no way to know 100%,” he told CBS Miami, “but it seems like the logical conclusion.”

According to the 11-page memo written by Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Ray Jadallah, Velasquez survived the initial collapse, but rescue teams were unable to reach her before she died.

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Theresa Velasquez

CBS Miami


In the memo, dated April 25, and sent to Fire Chief Alan Cominsky, Jadallah notes that his findings were based on more than two months of interviews with the crews working to free Velasquez.

The report seeks to refute the findings of a USA Today investigation published in December that identified the voice in the rubble as 14-year-old Valeria Barth. The report also refutes allegations that the actions of rescue teams caused Valeria to burn when firefighters accidentally set fire to the room where the teen was held.

From the start of the collapse, there were questions as to whether anyone was heard alive in the rubble. Jadallah and others initially denied that a voice had been heard. The department later acknowledged that in the early hours there was a voice behind a thick concrete slab that had crashed into the underground parking garage.

Those who worked in the underground garage all agreed that the voice was female.

Some firefighters believed the voice said she was in Unit 204. That was the unit where Valeria stayed with her parents, Luis Fernando Barth and Catalina Gomez. They had traveled together from Colombia to Miami a month before the collapse.

Other firefighters said the voice said she was in Unit 304, which is owned by Theresa Velasquez’s parents.

The report notes, “…it was challenging to hear the woman.”

“A rescuer stated that when they asked the victim if she was with someone else, the female voice replied that she was visiting her parents (paraphrased),” the report said. This statement is consistent with Theresa Velasquez’s family’s accounts stating that Mrs. Velasquez visited her parents from California and stayed with them in apartment #304. Unlike Mrs. Barth, who was accompanied by her parents who were visiting from Colombia. were and occupy apartment #204.”

“According to rescuers, the voice was that of an adult woman whose English resembled that of an English-speaker with native sentence syntax and excellent vocabulary,” the report continues. “All rescuers unanimously declared… [the voice] had no accent.”

The report states that Valeria’s uncle said the teen’s primary language was Spanish “but she can speak English” and has a clear Spanish accent.

According to the report, Valeria’s uncle did not believe that the voice was his niece.

CBS Miami could not reach both the uncle and the grandmother of Valeria.

Theresa Velasquez’s body was exhumed on July 8. It was about 5 meters away from the support posts they had erected as they tried to free the captive woman. However, the report does not say whether Valeria’s body was also found in that area.

The report spends a lot of time trying to refute allegations that the department did not have the necessary equipment to rescue the trapped woman. And it disputes the claim that the firefighters accidentally set the underground fires that forced rescue efforts for the trapped woman to be halted for several hours. When they returned, they could no longer hear the woman’s voice.

The report documents the extremely dangerous conditions under which rescue teams worked to try to save the woman – including high levels of carbon monoxide, hip-deep water contaminated with hazardous materials and the constant risk of electric shock and further collapse of the rubble.

Theresa Velasquez’s brother, David, said Jadallah and other officials have spoken to him many times in the months since the collapse.

“I trust what’s in that report and the people who made that decision,” he told CBS Miami.

Velasquez was a Los Angeles based managerial for Live Nation’s event promotion company.

“Theresa was a passionate leader at Live Nation, elevating every project she was part of while breaking barriers for women and the LGBTQIA+ community,” the company said after her body was recovered. “We will always remember and honor the impact she has made and will miss her dearly.”

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