FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – The latest victim of the Florida condominium collapse has been identified, a loved one said on Monday, more than a month after the midnight disaster that finally made 98 died and became the largest non-hurricane emergency response in the state’s history.
Estelle Hedaya, an outgoing 54-year-old woman with a passion for travel, was the last to be identified, ending what her loved ones have described as a tortured four-week wait. His younger brother, Ikey Hedaya, confirmed the news to The Associated Press. A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday.
It comes just days after rescuers officially completed the laborious and emotionally heavy task of removing layers of dangerous debris and removing dozens of bodies.
“She always mentioned God whenever she struggled with anything,” he said, adding that he was drawing strength from God, just as he had seen his sister do in times. difficult.
The site of the June 24 oceanfront collapse of the Champlain South Towers was largely swept away, the rubble moved to a warehouse in Miami. Although forensic scientists and rabbis are still at work, including examining debris in the warehouse, seeking to recover the remains and additional personal items.
Ultimately, the teams found no evidence that anyone who was found dead survived the initial collapse, said fire chief Alan Cominsky.
Search teams spent weeks battling the dangers of the rubble, including an unstable part of the building teetering above, a recurring fire, and the sweltering summer heat and thunderstorms in Florida. They passed through over 14,000 tonnes (13,000 metric tonnes) of broken concrete and rebar before finally declaring the mission complete.
“For the past 33 days, they have been digging through the rubble as if they were looking for one of their own,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a press conference on Monday.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Urban Search and Rescue Team pulled out of the site on Friday in a convoy of fire trucks and other vehicles. Officials praised their bravery, saying they worked 12-hour shifts while camping at the site and also faced a heavy emotional burden.
The tragedy that struck the small town of Surfside sparked a surge of love from everywhere residents donated their homes and apartments to the victims, colorful cards for rescuers, heaps and heaps of food were donated and tens of millions of dollars were collected for the victims.
The mayor expressed hope that these kindnesses would be “a powerful and lasting reminder of how deeply we are connected in the best and the worst times.”
The dead included members of the region’s large Orthodox Jewish community, the sister of the first lady of Paraguay, her family and their nanny, as well as an entire family of four which included a local vendor, his wife and their two. young girls, 4 and 11 years old. who were buried in the same coffin.
Linda March, a 58-year-old lawyer and former New York colleague, was a close friend of Hedaya’s. Oddly enough, the two were the last three victims to be identified, along with 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova of Canada.
Leah Sutton, who had known Hedaya from birth and considered herself a second mother to her, said that she and March were both “forces to be reckoned with”.
“My two beautiful and amazing intrepid girlfriends kept for last must believe there was a reason they were the last,” she said Monday. “Estelle’s love for God was incredible and unwavering.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear what will happen to the site of the collapse. A judge presiding over several lawsuits over the collapse wants the property to be sold at market rates, which would bring in around $ 100 million or more. Some condo owners want to rebuild, and others say a memorial should be erected to remember the dead.
Associated Press writer David Fischer contributed Miami