Daniel Groves was on vacation with his family in Surfside, staying on the second floor of a hotel next to the Champlain Towers when the collapse happened.
The family was “dead asleep” when the collapse occurred around 1:20 a.m., he said.
“It literally sounded like a bomb going off, like it was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Groves told CNN. “The whole building shook. I mean, I felt like we were in the worst earthquake in my life.”
“It shook very violently,” he added.
Groves said he opened the curtains of his hotel room and couldn’t see past more than four to five feet, but noticed a big crack in the glass where debris had hit. He said he thought they were in a tornado and began yelling at his wife to get up just as alarms began to sound in the building.
He and his wife grabbed their children, ages 3 and 7, leaving all their belongings behind and ran a few blocks away. Groves then took a video of the immediate aftermath of the collapse, still unsure of what had happened. The video shows the pile of rubble and debris littering the area.
“The scariest thing. I thought a tornado literally just hit and they just said no, the building is gone,” he is heard saying in the video.
He and his family have since gone to Disney to try to “get a little joy” following the tragedy.
“It’s not real good. My kids are really shook,” Groves said. “Toilet flushes, my kids are screaming. … A bell on the elevator dings, my kids hold their ears. I don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be.”