Wednesday, December 1

Amid Rubble and Grief: Months After Building Collapse in Surfside, Families Beg for Continued Search for Remains

12-story Champlain Towers South condominium building, partially collapsed at the time.

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Several months after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South residential building in Surfside, Miami Beach, the loved ones of Estelle Hedaya, the latest victim found in the rubble, still hope that more of her body can be found.

In a job of The Washington Post Hedaya’s relatives assured that her coffin “was almost light as a feather.”

The answer to this family was again truncated by a new obstacle and it is that county officials are currently seeking a judge’s permission to “dispose of the debris which are considered irrelevant for the investigation ”, since they assure that despite having been reviewed several times, so far they have not been able to find more human remains.

Estelle’s family, as well as others close to the victims of this unfortunate event, told The Washington Post that received only part of the remains of their loved ones and that is why they ask the authorities to continue searching through the piles of rubble.

“Once it’s thrown away, that’s it,” Lisa Shrem, Estelle Hedaya’s best friend, told The Washington Post. “We have nothing left to tell us that people lived or died in Champlain Towers South.”

Shrem pointed out that although the authorities told her that her friend had not been found during the first search, but in one of those that followed: “What if they have lost something else?”

“It’s like the moment they found a little piece of Estelle, just a little piece, they said, ‘Okay, we’re done. We gave everyone something, ‘”he added. “We have something, and we were hoping that that little detail would calm him down and make us feel closure. But it didn’t give us a complete closure, ”Shrem pointed out to the media.

For his part, Joseph Scott Morgan, forensic expert and professor at Jacksonville State explained to The Washington Post that due to the way the 12-story building fell, with the units collapsing in on themselves, “the debris and parts of the bodies were mixed, which complicates not only the initial recovery process but the continuous search for remains.

“Bone and stone can be almost indistinguishable to the inexperienced eye,” Morgan said.

David Thomas, professor of forensic science at Florida Gulf Coast University, also speaking to The Washington Post explained that “as the building collapsed and debris moved, the material may have further pulverized the remains. scattered everywhere ”.

On October 1, Lisa Shrem spoke with BBC Mundo and stated that the only viable option is to build a memorial that occupies the entire land where the collapse occurred.

“In America we don’t build on the bodies of the dead,” said Hedaya’s best friend. “We do not receive complete bodies. What we received were small pieces of their bodies. That means that the rest is in that land, probably in the form of ashes ”.


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