More than a month after the horrific mansion collapsed in Surfside, Florida, authorities have identified the body of the last victim.
54-year-old Estelle Hedaya was identified on Monday. Her younger brother, Ikey Hedaya, confirmed the news to the Associated Press.
On June 24, a 12-story Champlain Towers South Mansion collapsed, killing a total of 98 people. 97 bodies were pulled from the wreckage and one died in the hospital. County authorities accounted for 242 people who lived in the complex.
Firefighters announced on Friday that the search for the body on the scene had ended and continued to investigate the debris currently stored in the Miami warehouse.
In memory of the deceasedChamplan Towers Condo Collapse in Surfside, Florida
Hedaya was called a “fun person” by his friend Sharona Abadi for nearly 30 years.
“She was a life lover,” Abadi told Palm Beach Post. “You can put her in the room, and she’ll just be the type to make friends. She was a party life.”
Hedaya moved from New York to Surfside about five years ago after working for a jewelery company. According to Abadi, a common friend finally spoke to her around 11:00 pm on June 23.
On the day of the collapse, Abadi volunteered at Skylake Synagogue and Zashur and did everything possible to comfort the family waiting for the words of their loved ones.
That night, when she returned to Aventura’s house and turned on the 11 pm news, she saw a familiar sight. It’s the balcony of a friend Hedaya often shares photos with.
“Ester says you’re not in Champlan South. We’re worried about you,” Abadi sent a text message.
Hedaya’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.
On Friday, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Kominsky acknowledged the hard work of firefighters who took turns 12 hours in the last four weeks. The search team overcame heat, thunderstorms, and recurring fires to remove over 14,000 tonnes of broken concrete and rebar, often working rock-by-rock and rock-by-rock.
“It’s obviously catastrophic. It’s obviously a totally difficult situation,” Kominsky said. “I couldn’t be proud of the men and women representing the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Team.”
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No one was found alive, except for the first few hours after the collapse. Rescue activities changed to recovery activities on July 7.
At a press conference on Monday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the surfside collapse was the largest non-hurricane-related reaction in Florida’s history.
“The tragedy on the surfside will last forever with all of us,” she said. “It is also my hope that through this tragedy, the bonds we have built will be even stronger.”
Contributions: Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY; Hannah Morse, Palm Beach Post; Associated Press
Estelle Hedaya finds last victim
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