Sara Nir and her daughter Chani Nir, who escaped Champlain Towers moments before the condo collapsed last week, told CNN's John Berman on Tuesday night that they initially thought neighbors were doing construction.
Nir said she had just returned home to her two children around 12:30 a.m. ET when she started hearing “knocking sounds.”
As sounds became increasingly louder, Nir said she started to believe neighbors were doing “major construction,” and she went to speak to the building’s security guard about the early morning disturbance.
“I said, 'do you hear the sound?' It doesn't make sense in the middle of the night, early morning, people doing construction,” Nir told CNN.
Nir said as she was speaking to the guard, she heard a big boom and saw the garage had collapsed. At this point, Nir said her son and daughter were standing outside of their apartment and she told them to run, believing an earthquake was taking place.
“In the moment, you're just, you’re just shocked, you’re like, what's going on? Like, things are just collapsing, but you don't know, is the whole building about to collapse? You just you don't know what's going on,” daughter Chani Nir said.
“I said it's not construction, it's an earthquake, and while I was running, I told the security guy [to] call the police, pull the alarm so people will be aware about this,” Sara Nir said.
“We ran out of the building, and I told my kids, run as fast as you can, crossing Collins. We just crossed Collins. God was waiting for us to leave the building. And then another big boom. Then we didn't see anything. It was suddenly white after the big boom and with white clouds all over,” Nir told CNN.
Nir said she and her children ran three or four blocks away from the building before needing to stop to catch their breath.