Manuel LaFont, Fourth Body Identified in Surfside Condo Collapse, Remembered as 'Unbelievable Father'

·4 min read

IRF Global/Youtube Manuel Lafont

Late Saturday night, Miami-Dade police confirmed that Manuel LaFont, a 54-year-old father of two, was one of the victims of the Surfside condo collapse.

LaFont, known as Manny, lived in apartment 801 and was a loving father, a little league coach, and a business consultant.

Danny Berry, who runs the Miami Beach Youth Baseball League where LaFont was a coach, tells PEOPLE, "I am in shock. I still can't believe it. Manny was a great man, and an unbelievable father."

"He was at the ballpark almost every day working with Santi. Always encouraging Santi and always wanting to be there. They were very close," he adds, referring to LaFont's 10-year-old son. "My heart goes out to both his children. I know life will never be the same for either of them but we have a great baseball community and I want to do what ever we can to make Santi's life as normal as possible. If it is possible."

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Fellow coach and LaFont friend Brendan Coyle echoes similar sentiments. "I met Manny six years ago at North Shore Park when we brought our little four year olds to play tee ball for the first time and volunteered to be coaches. I think everyone knows how close of a relationship he had with Santi and how dedicated he was to both of his kids," he says.

"He has raised his kids well and to be tough. It won't be easy, but they'll get through this. Manny also cared deeply about the development of all the kids he coached or came across at the field," says Coyle. "After just about every game, especially the ones [my son] Nate pitched, Manny would send me an audio message to play for him positively reinforcing how he played and how he could improve. I'll be forever grateful for the positive impact he's had on my son and the lives of so many kids here and around Miami Beach."

Naturally, the Florida community was hoping for better news. "We all knew Manny was missing, but we were praying for him (and all the missing) to be found," Berry says. "After the incident, I tried calling his phone but got only voice mail. I was hoping he was out of town for his new job."

Fears ran high when the news of the collapse first broke as many feared the children, Santi and LaFont's 13-year-old daughter Mia, were with their father, but Berry says they are safe. "His ex-wife (Adriana LaFont) picked up his two children just hours before the collapse, and they are safe," he says.

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Adriana confirmed Manny's passing Saturday on Facebook, writing, "So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart! My manny, who was my partner for so many years, father of my children, who scolds me and loves me at the same time."

"I'm asking everyone for a nugget of the rosary, a prayer for them!!! Follow the hopes, my children are clinging to the miracle of life.... Manny, Daddy, we want to hug you again to tell you how much we love you!" she added.

RELATED: First Identified Victim of Surfside Building Collapse Is 'Beloved' Mom of Rescued Teen

Adriana also posted pictures of her family, many from their time living at the Champlain, and asked others to add more.

Listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on the Surfside, Florida condo collapse.

Manny worked in specialized manufacturing that created roadway safety. His work was so meaningful to him that, in a 2016 interview, he said, "I got into this industry specifically because I don't want to sell widgets. I want to help people. I want to do something good in this world…When I die, I want to say that my life meant something."

LaFont is one of four people whose remains have been identified among the nine pronounced dead. The other identified victims include: Stacie Fang, who was in apartment 1002, Anthony Lozano, 83, and Gladys Lozano, 79, who both lived in apartment 903.

156 people still remain unaccounted for as rescue efforts continue to move forward.