NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Vanderbilt University student is among those who died in a condo collapse in South Florida.
The body of Andreas Giannitsopoulos was recovered on Wednesday. He was 21 years old.
Father James Murphy is the president of St. Thomas High School in Houston, where he says Andreas was an accomplished track star. He says friends and family were anxious to hear any news from the Champlain Tower collapse, but it wasn't until Thursday when he says the unthinkable was realized.
"We are a close community. We are a loving community. We are a faith-filled community and this is when you need people by your side," Murphy said.
After graduating from St. Thomas, Andreas moved to Nashville and enrolled at Vanderbilt University to study economics. His friends remember Andreas as a promising young student who had just one year left before graduating.
"He was someone who was just filled with energy and focus and direction in his life," Murphy said.
Vanderbilt University released the following statement upon learning of Andreas' death:
“We extend our deepest condolences to Andreas’ family, friends, classmates and faculty as they deal with this unimaginable tragedy. Our thoughts continue to be with all affected by the disaster as they await news of their loved ones and mourn those lost. We have been closely following the situation in Surfside, Fla., and have reached out to Andreas’ family to offer support. We are encouraging members of our community to draw on the university’s resources, including the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, the Employee Assistance Program and the University Counseling Center, for assistance and support in processing this news.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family of Giannitsopoulos.
According to the GoFundMe page, he was a decathlon athlete in high school. His family and friends describe him as someone representing goodness, discipline and knowledge. An old soul who impacted every heart.
Giannitsopoulos was visiting his godfather who was staying at the Champlain Towers South Tower when the building collapsed last week.
"It's a tragedy all the way around and we also understand that while there's a relief in having the certainty, you also feel for all those families who are still waiting for that word," Murphy said.
As of Wednesday evening, the bodies of 18 people have been recovered from the debris. There are 145 people presumed to be in the building when it collapsed that are still missing.
Further rescue efforts were paused on Thursday morning due to structural concerns with the debris pile. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said movement in concrete and columns in the pile have promoted concern that a further collapse could occur.