When 16-year-old rising volleyball star Deven Gonzalez was pulled out from under the rubble of a condominium building in Miami, his first reaction in a state of shock was that firefighters had to compete in a major event in a few days.
The teenage world revolved around volleyball. He played beach volleyball with a high school team and a competitive travel club team. He apologized profusely to his coach for missing the last workout from his hospital bed, where he underwent multiple surgeries for a broken bone.
“I said,‘ Focus on you now, not on volleyball, ’” club coach Amy Morgan said, describing Gonzalez as extremely determined, cynical and uncompromising in achieving his goals.
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Gonzalez lived on rent on the ninth floor of the Champlain Towers South. He and his mother, Angela Gonzalez, fell several floors before being rescued on the fifth floor, he told his coach. His mother was among the survivors of the wreckage and was still hospitalized with serious injuries, Morgan told the Associated Press.
At least a dozen people were killed when the building collapsed on June 24. Devon Gonzalez’s father, lawyer Edgar Gonzalez, is still among the 120 missing. The family’s eldest daughter, Taylor, was not in the building when it collapsed and was a source of strength for her mother and sister, said Morgan and family friend Joslin Varona, who frequently posted the news on Facebook.
“It’s a strong and wonderful family,” Varona said. “They have a lot of confidence.”
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Deven Gonzalez is still unable to see his mother because they are in the hospital, but he had a short video interview with her a few days ago when Angela Gonzalez’s intubation tube was removed on her mother’s birthday, Morgan said.
Deven Gonzalez was conscious when the building collapsed and during his traumatic recovery, the coach said. She remembers the details clearly and has difficulty sleeping with bad dreams.
“I don’t know if he fully reconciled with everyone. He was and is not,” Morgan and Gonzalez said, adding that he was unaware of the scale of the tragedy and how it was being treated around the world.
“My father is still missing. My father is still missing, ”Morgan said. “He’s really suffocated about it.”
The teenager even took his first steps recently.
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“It’s going to be a bad, hard road, but I think he’ll make it,” Morgan said.
Angela Gonzalez will undergo surgery this week due to an injury, but when asked questions, Varona said in her Facebook posts.
“There was no news about Edgar,” Varona wrote. “We still pray and hope for a miracle.”
Varona said she wrote the fireplace to write a letter to encourage the family.
Edgar and Angela Gonzalez were very involved in their daughters ’goals in volleyball, the coach said. Her mother was like a team therapist, always listening to and encouraging the girls.
Edgar is a kind, gentle and cheerful father, Morgan said. After a race, he helped host a large barbecue party for the team. When the family was about to move to Orlando, the building collapsed. Edgar was so excited to meet him for two weeks.
“They’re very kind, supportive,” Morgan said. “I see (Gonzalez’s) power coming from his lease.”
The tragedy was hard on a nearby volleyball team that gathered for a Thursday night workout and paid their rent. Everyone sat in a circle and held hands as they prayed. Many cried.
“Deven is a very hardworking and kind person,” his teammate Leah Deveaux said Sunday. “We can’t wait for him to get back on his feet. We love him so much and miss him.”
GoFundMe has raised more than $ 100,000 for the family.
“We’re really trying to help and support, but we feel absolutely helpless because we can’t improve it,” Morgan said. “Each of us would dig up the rubble there. If we were there, we would do it.”