A veteran jetBlue flight attendant is one of 150 people still unaccounted for following the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Miami, Florida. The rescue effort is already into its sixth day and 11 people are confirmed to have died in the tragedy. So far, more than 136 people have been accounted for but many more remain missing.
Elaine Sabino, 70, had worked at US Airways before joining jetBlue based out of Fort Lauderdale airport. She lived in a penthouse on the 12th floor of the building.
Confirming the news that Elaine was still missing, a spokesperson for jetBlue said that her colleagues were “heartbroken”. Friends described Elaine as someone with “one of the most kindest and gentle souls.”
“We were heartbroekn to learn that one of our crewmembers, Elaine Sabino, is among those unaccounted for in this terrible tragedy,” a spokesperson for jetBlue said. “Elaine is an inflight crewmember and has been with jetBlue for five years.”
“We are in direct contact with her family to provide support during this difficult time. Our hearts go our to all the families waiting for news about their loved ones and those who are grieving,” the statement continued.
One of Elaine’s friends and coworkers told a popular flight attendant Facebook page, A Fly Guys Cabin Crew Lounge: “Elaine is one of the most kindest and gentle souls that I’ve ever flown with.”
“She has a way of lighting up a room and flight with her smile, calm way of speaking to people and gentle charisma. I hope and pray she’s found and a miracle takes place.”
Another friend told the Miami Herald that Elaine was “always there to give you a hand in everything you’re doing”.
“She was the ultimate hostess, on the airplane, everywhere”.
jetBlue says it is working with local emergency management officials to provide free flights to the victim’s families, as well as rescue personnel who need to get to and from the scene. On Monday, American Airlines also said it would donate 3 million frequent flyer AAdvantage® miles to local charity United Way to coordinate travel arrangements for families trying to get to Surfside.
Investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of why the condo building collapsed but questions have been raised about the building’s structural integrity. A report from an engineering firm in 2018 showed there was severe structural damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck, as well as “cracking and spalling” in the parking garbage.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.