Iliana Monteagudo, 64, woke up in the middle of the night Thursday to a strange sound. Then, she saw a crack snaking down her wall.
Barefoot, she ran from her sixth floor unit down the stairs, hearing thunderous noises and climbing over several walls as she raced toward safety, according to CNN affiliate WPLG.
““The ceiling, down,” she told the affiliate. “When I see that, something inside of me said run because this building will collapse.”
“I start going down, fast, and I hear crack, crack, crack,” she said. “I start to scream, ‘Come on God, I want to see my son, I want to see my grandson. Don’t let me die in this condition.'”
Once outside she called her son to say she was OK, but that the building behind her had collapsed.
“Three seconds separate me, the life to the death. Three seconds,” she told the station.
After seeing the the portion of the Surfside building his mom had called home collapsed, Monteagudo’s son told the station that the magnitude of his mother’s decision became even more apparent.
“You know when it really hit, is when I called her probably a day or two afterwards,” Alvarez said. “I said to myself, I want to call my mother and see how she is. And when I called her, it hit me. It gets me a little bit now, it hit me knowing that I could call her.”
Read more about the escapes and rescue efforts here.