Woman's tragic phone call to husband as building collapsed

·3-min read

A woman staying on the fourth floor of the Champlain Towers South in Miami was on the phone with her husband as the building started to crumble.

Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton, 40, still has not been found since part of the Florida apartment building collapsed last week, she is one of 151 people who are unaccounted for.

Just before the apartment collapsed, Ms Billedeau-Stratton was on the phone with her husband, having called him in a panic to tell him about the sink hole where the building's swimming pool once was.

"I was in Washington, on the phone with her when the whole thing happened, 1.30 am," her husband, Mike Stratton, told NBC News on Monday.

Mr Stratton, a Democratic strategist and attorney, was on a business trip in Washington DC at the time of the collapse.

Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton is pictured. She is one of 151 people still missing after the Florida apartment building collapse.
Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton is among the 151 people still unaccounted for after the apartment building collapse in Florida. Source: Instagram

He has since released a statement about his wife, who was originally from Louisiana, as rescue efforts continue at the site of the collapse.

“Thank you to everyone who has reached out and is keeping Cassie in their thoughts and prayers, but most of all to the brave men and women working around the clock in unimaginable conditions to bring her and others home," the statement said, according to 4WWL.

"Our family is forever grateful. Cassie is a wife, mother and true friend to so many. She brings a vivacious love of life to everything she does—whether as an actress, model or pilates instructor. 

"Thank you again for your continued prayers.”

According to NBC News, the couple are based in Colorado, however they spent much of last year in Florida.

The death toll of the collapsed building has risen to 10, however officials are still sifting through the rubble trying to find survivors.

Crews were using cranes, dogs and infrared scans as they looked for any signs of life among the ruins, hoping air pockets may have formed underneath the concrete that could be keeping some people alive.

The Surfside building rubble as seen from the water in Florida.
The Surfside area apartment complex partially collapsed last Thursday, with 10 confirmed dead so far. Source: AP

"We're going to continue and work ceaselessly to exhaust every possible options in our search," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a news briefing according to Reuters.

"The search-and-rescue operation continues."

The investigation into the cause of the collapse of the tower, which was built in the 1980s, is ongoing.

A 2018 engineer's report found serious concrete deterioration in the underground parking garage as well as major damage in the concrete slab beneath the pool deck.

The author, Frank Morabito, said the deterioration would "expand exponentially" if it was not repaired in the near future.

But Ross Prieto, then Surfside's top building official, met residents the following month after reviewing the report and assured them the building was "in very good shape," according to minutes of the meeting released by the town on Monday.

with Reuters

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