The men trapped and killed beneath the weight of five stories of collapsed concrete were hard workers and family men, according to neighbors and family members.
Carlos Hurtado Demendoza, 48, and Jose Calderon, 60, were crushed when slabs of a quadrant of an under-construction, $22.5 million parking garage pancaked down to the ground Wednesday at Miami Dade Colleges West Campus in Doral.
Samuel Perez, 53, died in the hospital early Thursday morning after workers amputated his legs and pulled him from beneath the rubble. A fourth worker, Robert Budhoo, is believed to be trapped and is presumed dead.
The men were part of a crew of about 17 electricians, welders, painters and other construction workers were at the garage site at the time. As many as 10 others were injured. All were construction workers for the garage contractor, Ajax Building Corp., or one of its subcontractors, college spokesman Juan Mendieta said.
On Thursday, as many as 19 members of Budhoos family huddled in the shade of a tree and waited anxiously to hear news, hopefully that the husband and father was alive. He was an electrician with Stryker Electric, according to his family, some of whom watched Wednesday as crews pulled bodies from the wreckage.
Authorities said Thursday morning that the rescue mission had turned to a recovery effort, and work at the site slowed, which frustrated Budhoos family.
They wanted to get closer to the scene but were asked by officials to stay about 200 feet away. Around 4:30, cranes began to pluck concrete off the rubble and officials explained to the family that they would have to stop working after dark.
Budhoos brother, Donovan, said he grew up in Central Jamaica and moved to Miami almost 20 years ago with his wife and three children. He lives in Tamarac.
He's a better man than me," said Donovan Budhoo, who last saw his brother at the Calder race track, where the men liked to play the horses. I know Im going to see him again.
Budhoos family held out hope.
Daddy, where ever you are please hang on, Budhoos daughter, Tasha Budhoo Bagwadeen, wrote on Facebook. GOD is there beside you, please dont give up. You are in our prayers and MY GOD IS REAL. HE IS A MIRACLE WORKER, AND I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES.
Other families and friends mourned too Thursday.
Armando G. Aguilar, a friend of Samuel Perez, said the victim of the collapse was a concrete truck manager for a project subcontractor. Perezs legs were amputated more than 12 hours after the accident and died several hours later in the hospital.
Perez lived in the Colonial Acres Mobile Home Park in Northwest Miami-Dade. He was born in New York City to a Cuban mother who moved the family back to the island when he was a small child. Although an American citizen by birth, he struggled to return to the United States and did not come back to live until the mid-90s when he joined a brother in South Florida, Aguilar said.
Aguilar met Perez on Secretos Cuba a web forum where Cuban issues were discussed.
When I came to this country, I never thought that I would ever find a friendship like his that was equal to the ones I had in childhood, Aguilar said. It hurts to know how much he must have suffered.
In Cuba, Perez was a technician in the veterinary field and in Miami worked several odd jobs until he settled in the construction business. He leaves a son in Cuba, another who arrived in the United States recently, and his wifes children, who he raised. He and his wife, Migdalia Lopez, have been together since 1996, according to Perez Facebook page.