The young women – who met during their third year of study at McGill University in Montreal, where they both pursued business studies – were residing in Pazos father’s condominium in Surfside, Fla. when it suddenly collapsed on June 24. As an engineer, Elena Pazos said that from the moment she saw the footage of the Champlain South Towers wreck, she knew her daughter probably did not survive.
“When I saw the pile that was left there, that there was no structure… I pretty much knew then that it was bad enough,” she said.
“That’s why I didn’t want to watch anymore. “
The 12-story tower near Miami killed 97 people when it partially collapsed. Authorities say rescue and recovery efforts have required the removal of more than 12,000 tonnes of debris and concrete as search teams continue to identify the dead.
Miami-Dade Police have so far identified 95 victims, according to county officials.
Pazos’ ex-husband Miguel Pazos, 55, and their daughter Michelle Pazos were the second and third Canadian victims identified in the condominium collapse, according to Global Affairs Canada. Their bodies were recovered after three weeks.
Pazos says she will remember her daughter as a happy person.
“Michelle was the sun of my life,” her mother said. “She was everything to me. “
Pazos says that although she is devastated by the sudden loss of her daughter, her body being identified was the only consolation.
“I was happy,” Pazos said. “I know it’s horrible [to say] … But when you go through this ordeal to find your loved ones, in the end, you hope to learn that they have been found.
“In the end, you lost your loved ones and you will never see them again. “
Sergiy Gromov and Larysa Gromova flew to Florida from Toronto on June 27 after hearing about their daughter and her friend.
“They’ve spent a lot of time together… they think the same way,” said Larysa Gromova. “They helped each other make good decisions in life. “
The couple say they have come to terms with their daughter’s likely death, but need her remains identified for them to find a solution.
“We hope they get at least something back,” Gromov said. “Otherwise, you know, it’s unbearable.
The last time Larysa Gromova heard from her daughter it was via SMS, as she often sent updates on her travels.
“When you look at our WhatsApp messages, the last thing [Anastasia sent] was ‘I love you.’ It’s so hard, ”she said.
Almost a month has passed since the collapse, and Gromov says he understands rescuers won’t find Anastasia “anytime soon.”
Given Florida’s humid climate, human remains are deteriorating rapidly, and he says detectives told him DNA testing would take a long time.
Gromov says his daughter’s life was vibrant before it was cut short.
“She was very bright. She was the strongest in our family, and I understand it now, ”he said. “She was very smart. She was not wasting her time. She used all the possibilities of her life to travel, to learn certain places, to meet friends, to meet people. “
In a statement, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said Canada offered its deepest condolences and provided direct support to the families of those who died.