Final Victim in Surfside Condo Collapse Has Been Identified

Estelle Hedaya was identified as the 98th and final victim from the tragic Champlain Towers South condo collapse that occurred in Surfside, Fla. last month.

Police tape blocks access to a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach.

Image via Getty/CHANDAN KHANNA

Police tape blocks access to a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach.

Authorities have identified the remains of the final victim in last month’s tragic condo building collapse in Florida, New York Timesreports

Estelle Hedaya’s younger brother, Ikey, confirmed that the family was contacted by police Monday, bringing the death toll count to 98. Hedaya lived on the sixth floor of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium that partially collapsed in the early morning hours on June 24. 

Sharona Abadi remembers Hedaya, her friend of almost three decades, as a “fun-loving person.” 

“She was a person who loved life,” Abadi told the Palm Beach Post. “You can put her into a room, and she’ll be the type that just makes friends. She was the life of the party.”

Families of those who were still missing were informed in a private briefing about two weeks ago that officials were switching their focus from rescuing survivors to retrieving bodies. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue assistant chief Ray Jadallah explained at the time that given the nature of the collapse and the amount of time someone could live without air, food or water, there was “zero chance of survival.” 

The announcement was made on the same day that survivors visited the site of the collapse. “They went there for closure,” Daniella Levine Cava, mayor of Miami-Dade County, ​​​​​​said, “and what they realized is how fortunate they were to be alive, to have been rescued from that building.” 

NPR obtained a letter last month which informed Champlain Towers South residents ahead of the condominium association’s board meeting in April that the building was rapidly deteriorating and required $15 million in repairs.

“Among other things, that estimate indicated that the concrete damage observed would begin to multiply exponentially over the years, and indeed the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse since the initial inspection,” the letter reads. “When you can visually see the concrete spalling (cracking), that means that the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface.” 

The collapse now stands as one of the deadliest structural building failures in U.S. history. 

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