Houston native dead, another unaccounted for following Florida condo collapse

A Houston man is among the dead and another remains unaccounted for following the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Police identified Manuel LaFont, 54, of Houston as one of the five deceased people late Saturday. The others include Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, Antonio, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and one person unidentified.

In Surfside, search and rescue efforts are ongoing. Since the 12-story building collapsed Thursday, rescuers have worked tirelessly, using both equipment and their own hands, to sift through the rubble in search of anyone still alive.

Family members said a young man from the Houston area was also staying with Lafont at the time of the collapse.

Lafont spent much of his childhood in Houston and attended Sharpstown High School. Afterward, he studied at Texas A&M University and the University of Houston, family members said.

Lafont’s ex-wife Adriana Lafont said Manny, as he was called by his friends, was a devoted father. In fact, she said the last time she spoke to him, just a short time before the building collapse, she said that he was planning to take their young son Santi fishing.

She talked about what she has been going through emotionally ever since she learned of the massive collapse of the Champlain Towers South where Manny lived.

“The feeling that I have in my belly, I cannot describe it to you. It’s horrible. It’s a nightmare,” Adriana Lafont told reporters in Florida before the news that Manny died in the collapse.

Adriana said she had been praying for a miracle that rescuers would find the father of her children alive. But she admitted upon first seeing the remains of that collapsed building that she was filled with dread.

“I was walking and walking and walking and then I see this huge hole and I stopped there. I said ‘Oh my God’ and I started screaming. This is horrible. I mean, Manny’s building is not there anymore,” Adriana said.

Related coverage:

PHOTOS: Beachfront apartment building collapses outside Miami

Report showed ‘major’ damage before Florida condo collapse

How to help victims of the Florida condo collapse


About the Authors:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team as a community associate producer in 2019. During her time in H-Town, she's covered everything from fancy Houston homes to tropical storms. Previously, she worked at Austin Monthly Magazine and KAGS TV, where she earned a Regional Edward R. Murrow award for her work as a digital producer.