Jake Samuelson told WPLG he was always close with his grandparents Myriam and Arnie Notkin, who lived in apartment 302 of Champlain Towers South. The wing of the 12-story building collapsed suddenly in the middle of the night Thursday, killing at least nine. Rescuers Sunday continued to use heavy machinery and power tools to clear the rubble from the top and tunnel in from below.
Hours after the collapse, around 9:40 p.m. Thursday, Samuelson said his mother's house line received a mysterious phone call from the Notkin's landline.
Static and cracking noises could be heard from the landline, with no discernable human voices.
"We were all sitting there in the living room, my whole family ... We were just shocked, and we kind of thought nothing of it because we answered and it was static," Samuelson said.
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But by Friday, the family received a total of 16 calls from the Notkin's landline.
"We are trying to rationalize what is happening here. We are trying to get answers," Samuelson said
Myriam Caspi Notkin, 81, and Arnie Notkin, 87, married about 20 years ago after losing their spouses, according to a family friend.
"They were a happy couple. We're hoping for a miracle," said Fortuna Smukler, a North Miami Beach commissioner who grew up with Myriam Notkin's three daughters. When they ran into each other as adults, Notkin always recalled her friendship with Smukler's mother, who died 40 years ago.
"Every time Myriam would see me, she always had to make a point of saying how wonderful my mother was," Smukler said. "She was very thoughtful."
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Smukler also knew Arnie Notkin dating back to his days as a physical education teacher and coach at Leroy D. Fienberg Elementary School in South Beach in the 1960s. He had an engaging personality and always had a story to tell.
"He had students who became famous, and he had to tell me about them, how they were good or mischievous," she said.
Samuelson said Myriam worked as a banker and real estate agent.
Note: The video in the media player above reports that Andriana LaFont is looking for answers on her ex-husband, Manual LaFont. Officials confirmed late Saturday that Manual LaFont was killed in the collapse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.