Surfside PD Officer Remembers Caller Looking for Wife When Condo Collapsed

Officer Joe Matthews says he received more than 300 calls the night the condo collapsed, but he remembers caller Michael Stratton

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Surfside Police Officer Joe Matthews won’t forget the man who called him looking for his wife, Cassondra Stratton, who lived in Champlain Towers South.

“There’s one particular gentleman named Michael Stratton, and he called me. He was in Washington, and he and I developed a bond," Matthews said.

He said Stratton continuously called him, looking for updates after Cassondra’s phone died amid the chaos on the night the building collapsed.

“He called me every 20 minutes, and he did it between every 20, 30 minutes," Matthews said. "He would call me, and he would call me, 'Any update?' I’m like, 'no, Mike, I’m sorry, I don’t know,' and he would hang up and kept calling and kept calling."

Mike Stratton was on the phone with his wife, Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton, when the Surfside condo she was in collapsed. Friends and family say they are holding onto hope that the missing 40-year-old will be found under the rubble.

Matthews works at the communications desk at the Surfside Police Department. On the night when the Champlain Towers came down, calls came in nonstop.

“People from all over the world, all over the country, calling, asking what happened,” he said.

The next day, Matthews met the man he’d talked to on the phone for hours.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced on Thursday evening that Search and Rescue teams had resumed searching for victims of the Surfside condo collapse, after a nearly 15-hour pause due to safety concerns for the first responders.

“I came to work, and I met him at the reunification center," he said. "Actually, it was pretty emotional."

Now, more than a week after the collapse and amid ongoing search and rescue efforts, Cassondra is still missing.

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