Miguel and Michelle Bazos die in an apartment collapse near Miami Beach

Michelle Bazos dies in the Surfside apartment collapse.

Michelle Bazos dies in the Surfside apartment collapse.

through Facebook

Father-daughter duo Miguel and Michelle Bazos, dedicated world travelers and professionals, died when the Champlain Tower in the South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed on June 24.

Michelle traveled to Miami with her best friend from college, 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova. Pazos’ father, 55-year-old Miguel, owned an apartment in the oceanfront Surfside Tower apartment. The friends wanted to take a vacation together before Anastasia moved to Japan to teach English and travel the region.

The bodies of Miguel and Michel were found on July 8 and 9, respectively; Anastasia was among the last victims to be found, He recovered on July 18.

Cuban Miguel Angel Pazos attended Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Vocational School near Havana during the 1970s. At the Secondary Boarding Institute, colloquially known as “La Lenin,” Bazzos was a famous student leader who took his studies very seriously, classmate and friend Rafael Gutierrez said.

“I remember once he had a fracture, and when he got back with his crew, everyone started clapping,” recalls Gutierrez, a freelance translator for McClatchy, which owns the Miami Herald.

After graduating from high school, Miguel went to the Soviet Union to study nuclear engineering. He fell in love with a Russian woman, named Elena, who later became his wife. The couple moved to Canada and had two children.

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Miguel Angel Buzos

Michelle Bazos, 23, was the youngest of Miguel’s two children. She was born in Buren, a small town in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. She had one brother, Alan.

“Michelle was the sunshine in my life,” her mother told the Canadian Broadcasting Network. “She was everything to me.”

Michele has grown up across continents and countries, shaped and shaped by different cultures. She moved to the coastal Mexican city of Veracruz when she was a little girl.

“I was four years old, learning Spanish and how to ditch piñatas along the way,” young Michelle wrote of living in Mexico.

The Pazos family moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2006, where Michelle attended the American School of Dubai. In International City, Michelle wrote in a school blog, she lived in an apartment for the first time, traveled to countries she “never dreamed of seeing,” lived ice skating again, and spent countless hours at the Victory Leisureland skating rink.

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Michelle Bazos, who died in the Surfside collapse, was a talented figure skater. through Facebook

She was an active member of her high school community, which she called her “favorite part of Dubai”. She participated in many extracurricular disciplines, including track and field. She also skis competitively.

“Both are very logical activities to do in the desert,” she once joked.

The school’s alumni page said Michele still maintains several school and regional athletic records, including “200, 400 and 800-meter dashes, hurdles, relays, and the long jump.” She has been named MVP many times.

Teachers, school staff, friends and former students mourned the loss on social media.

One person wrote: “I remember Michelle because she was so friendly and kind and lit up the HS office when she came.”

Another wrote, “Being in her presence means that she loves life and invests herself in making a difference in the lives of others.”

Duane Confer, a former ASD English teacher who taught Michelle and was also her coach for Academic Games – the school’s trivia team – described her as a “huge personality” who was “small in stature”.

“She was very smart, quick-witted, and sharp-tongued,” Confer said. “And I wasn’t afraid to wrestle with ideas or other people’s ideas. If you challenge it, you will fully rise to the challenge, the academic challenge, the personal challenges.”

Bazzos went to New Delhi with the Academic Games team, staying with a host family of students from a sister school. She was the shortest in a group of 6-foot-tall teenage boys.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be completely run over by these boys,'” said the educator, laughing. “It was just the opposite. I crowded them in and ran them.”

The team borrowed it from a Walt Whitman poem, and called it “Captain! My Leader or Lord!”

“Once she joined, it was like, of course, she had to be a captain,” Confer said.

Michelle graduated from the American School of Dubai in 2015 and returned to Canada where she attended McGill University in Montreal. In college, she was a prestigious student who studied Marketing and Business Administration.

Michelle and Anastasia met during their young year, on a multi-country trip in Asia. As they traveled through Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, and others, the young women bonded.

They got together and became the best friends ever,” said Larisa Gromova, Anastasia’s mother. “After they came back to Canada, they were always together, always smiling, always going somewhere.”

After graduating from college in 2018, the couple stayed in Montreal. Michelle worked for Accenture, a multinational consulting firm, according to Canadian media.

Michelle’s loved ones spanned the globe, from Asia to North America. She and Anastasia traveled to Miami in mid-June to visit her father on Father’s Day.

Miguel was looking forward to seeing his daughter. He has gone to Miami to reconnect with family and friends. Gutierrez lost contact with him for 30 years until Miguel reappeared in Miami less than a year ago, and soon he and his old classmates from La Lenin were gathering together to exchange birthdays and meals.

“He was so generous and loving as if the years hadn’t passed,” Gutierrez said, adding that they met again two weeks before the breakup.

Confer and Michelle have kept in touch via social media over the years. He liked to follow what his former student was doing from afar.

“I study literature,” he told the Miami Herald. “And I always think in terms of stories. …Her story was just beginning.”

This story was originally published September 14, 2021 6:00 a.m.

Stay tuned for more of our reports on the apartment collapse: a disaster at Surfside

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Syra Ortiz Blanes covers immigration for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Previously, she was a Puerto Rican and Spanish Caribbean correspondent for the Heralds through Report for America.

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