'He was always there for you:’ Athens native remembers friend killed in Surfside building collapse

Stephen says he now wants to live for his friend Andreas, taken too soon.

Posted: Jul 6, 2021 6:26 PM
Updated: Jul 7, 2021 11:21 AM

A North Alabama native is remembering his friend and roommate who died in the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida.

"It was tough. It was really hard to believe, almost impossible to believe at first," said Stephen Phraner, friend of Andreas Giannitsopoulos who died in the Surfside building collapse.

Stephen Phraner is an Athens native. 

His friend and roommate in college Andreas Giannitsopoulos died in that condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. 

Rescue crews were able to recover his body. 

"When they found his body, it definitely hit home because of course you never want to like count him as gone until absolute certainty," said Phraner.

Phraner says the two talked about faith, life and fitness. 

"Andreas was one of the most sincere and thoughtful friends that I had, especially this past year at school. He has an old soul, very tenderhearted," said Phraner. 

And Andreas had an appreciation for all life.

"Interesting hobby of his, he had a pop-up greenhouse in his room. He took care of, he had dozens of these different plants ... he was always there for you and was always willing to listen to you and just be there for you," said Phraner.

Phraner says he now wants to live for his friend Andreas, taken too soon.

"His passing, while it's tough ... It really sets a fire under me to make the absolute most of each and every day, because truly when you think about it every day is a gift. We're not promised another day," he said.

Click here for a link to a GoFundMe for the Giannitsopoulos family.

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