(CNN) – Erick de Moura had planned to spend the night in his apartment in the Champlain Towers South building at the time when much of it collapsed.
The only reason this didn’t happen is that his girlfriend convinced him to stay with her.
De Moura and his partner, Fernanda Figueiredo, believe he is alive because he was not in his unit in the building that collapsed at dawn on June 24 in Miami, Florida.
“He was right at the door of his house, about to leave. And for some reason, she asked me to stay, ”de Moura told CNN’s John Berman on Tuesday morning.
De Moura was at Figueiredo’s house that night of June 23 to watch a Copa América match between his native Brazil and Colombia on television with some friends.
After the game he got up to leave. But one of Figueiredo’s sons – in an unusual situation for a Wednesday night – was not at home that day. Then she saw an opportunity for them to hang out together, they said, even though he had some commitments to attend to in the morning.
“I wanted to shower and sleep comfortably. But she insisted that I stay, ”said de Moura.
“And when I woke up at 5:30 (in the morning) to check my phone and set the alarm to get up for me to attend my engagement, I had some notifications” telling him that something had happened, said de Moura.
He saw a message from a woman who worked in the apartment building asking him if he was okay. He called her and she told him that the building had collapsed.
“You just don’t believe it”
You’re half awake, half asleep, and someone tells you that your house has collapsed. A building in Miami. You just don’t believe it, ”he said.
Figueiredo told CNN that he also has trouble understanding what had happened.
“It is so incredible that such a building” can collapse, he said. He could have been there a few hours earlier.
Since the collapse, de Moura has been staying in a hotel with other displaced residents.
He is grateful to be alive, but he and the others say they are in “a lot of pain.”
“We saw some of them (the disappeared) every day,” he said. “And although we are not family, we saw these people almost every day.”
“We used to hang out in the pool and on the beach. So there is definitely a lot of pain right now. I am very grateful to be alive, but very saddened by the tragedy.