The first victim of the Surfside condominium collapse has been identified as the mother of the teen boy who was rescued from the rubble of the building.
Stacie Fang, the mother of 15-year-old Jonah Handler, was the first victim of the tragedy to be identified Friday.
"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie. The members of the Fang and Handler family would like to express our deepest appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy, compassion and support we have received," the family said in a statement. "The many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time. On behalf of Stacie’s son, Jonah, we ask you now to please respect our privacy to grieve and to try to help each other heal.”
Fang, 54, passed away shortly after arriving at Aventura Hospital Thursday, records from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner showed. She will be buried Sunday in New Jersey.
Officials with the Archdiocese of Miami said Handler is a 10th grader at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens and a member of the school's JV baseball team.
CONDO COLLAPSE COVERAGE
Emergency workers pulled Handler from the tangled debris of the Champlain Towers South Condo not long after a section of the 12-story building collapsed early Thursday.
Dramatic video footage showed firefighters helping Handler out of the wreckage and placing him on a stretcher before he was taken to a local hospital.
Pace High Athletic Director Thomas Duffin said he spoke with Handler's father, who told him the teen was in stable condition.
"I'm in shock just like everybody else, seeing those images of one of our own," Duffin said Friday. "We're praying for him, that's really all we can do."
Nicolas Balboa, 55, helped firefighters rescue Handler. Balboa, who was visiting his father in Surfside from Arizona, was walking his dog early Thursday when he heard a loud noise and saw the building crumble.
"As I moved closer, I could hear somebody making noise and yelling. I started to get close to the building and climbed into the debris, and I could hear him saying that he was over there, and I could see his arm sticking up through the debris and waving his hand," Nicholas Balboa, a man from Phoenix, told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" on Thursday night.
"He was just saying, 'Please don't leave me, please don't leave me.' I told him that we weren't going to leave him," Balboa said. "It was myself and one other person. So, we were there and we just felt like we could get to him. It didn't feel right to just leave him, especially hearing that his voice was just so young."
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Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says 159 people are still unaccounted for.
Rescue crews, which include some 130 firefighters working in teams, are approaching the pile from above and below as they search for any signs of life in what had been a wing of the Champlain Towers South.