Woman Asks Judge to Stop Florida Condo Demolition to Save Cat and Gets a Response

A woman pleaded with the court to grant her permission to rescue a cat from a crumbling building, and her request was denied. But, perhaps, the real culprit in this sad state of affairs is neglect by officials. 

On June 24, 2021, the Champlain Towers South condo in the town of Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed. The decision was then made to demolish the remaining building.

Attorney Paula Phillips requested that her client Stacy Karron be allowed to save pets inside the building before its destruction, including a cat named Coco. Judge Michael Hanzman denied the appeal. 

A picture of a cat overlaid onto a picture of a condo. │Source:  twitter.com/artemania2018  youtube.com/CBS News

A picture of a cat overlaid onto a picture of a condo. │Source: twitter.com/artemania2018 youtube.com/CBS News

Coco resided on the fourth floor with an elderly woman and her daughter, acting as an emotional support animal (ESA). The judge, who was originally under the impression that the feline was Karron's pet, expressed

“This is a very important case. It’s a very tragic case. I have a lot of emergencies that I have to address in this case.” 

He stated this in a second hearing, which followed the demolition. Hanzman also expressed that he felt deceived after finding out via the media that Karron was not a resident and therefore not a victim of the tragedy herself. 

Judge Michael Hanzman talking during a Zoom call. │ Source: The Miami Herald

Judge Michael Hanzman talking during a Zoom call. │ Source: The Miami Herald

The attorney opposing Karron's emergency appeal caseDave Murray, also stated that her request was dangerous. Not only for Karron, he said, but for the rescuers as well.

A structural engineering report... in 2018 warned of extensive structural damage.

The advocate pointed out that the structure was full of explosives. He stated that there were already efforts to save pets before the demolition occurred. 

Attorney Paula Phillips talking during a Zoom call. │ Source: The Miami Herald

Attorney Paula Phillips talking during a Zoom call. │ Source: The Miami Herald

Murray's statement was not false, as rescuers did attempt to save pets, including Coco. Firefighters originally left the cat some food and water on the fourth floor's balcony with the implied intention of drawing it out. 

Chair of the Miami Commission Ken Russell pushed the initiative to find and feed the pets in the building. Unfortunately, even at that time, it was considered too dangerous to rescue Coco and other animals.

Miami-Dade County attorney Dave Murray talking during a Zoom call. │ Source: The Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County attorney Dave Murray talking during a Zoom call. │ Source: The Miami Herald

This danger was perhaps imminent; a structural engineering report of the Champlain Towers South condo in 2018 warned of extensive structural damage. Local officials denied any knowledge of this study. 

Later that year, ex-building official Ross Prieto was said to have reviewed the report. He assured inhabitants that the structure was safe.

In April 2021, residents received a letter outlining that the deterioration had worsened since the initial inspection in 2018. Eventually, the building partly collapsed two months later, with around 55 apartments destroyed. 

In a similar story, yet on a smaller scale, an alleged timber trafficking truck collapsed on a wooden bridge. A clip was shared on Reddit of the incident; initially, it seemed as if the truck would make it across. 

The wood eventually gave way, and everything came tumbling down. Many Redditors commented that the bridge's structure was to blame, so maybe the culprit in both incidents is simply human oversight. 

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