Updated Jul 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Last victim identified in Surfside condo collapse

A woman cries as she visits a makeshift memorial where the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building stood in Surfside, Florida
A woman cries as she visits a makeshift memorial where the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building stood in Surfside, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The last victim of the June 24 condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., has been identified, a relative confirmed Monday to the Associated Press.

The latest: Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed at a press conference Monday afternoon that 98 people died in the condo collapse, and all have been identified.

  • "All 97 persons for whom we had missing persons reports have been recovered, and a total of 242 people are accounted for," said Levine Cava, noting that one victim died in hospital.
  • "Although we have identified all of the victims that were reported missing, the Miami-Dade Police Department continues the ongoing search and recovery effort on the evidentiary pile, to ensure that all identifiable human remains are recovered," Levine Cava said.
  • Search teams continue to sift through "millions of pounds" of debris for remains and any items that can help bring closure to the families, Levine Cava said.
  • Officials confirmed that human remains have been found at the "secondary site" from the collapse, where the remaining part of the building was demolished, underscoring the need to keep searching.

The big picture: Estelle Hedaya, 54, was the last victim identified, ending what her relatives called a torturous four-week wait. She was described as an outgoing person with a love of travel, per AP.

  • “She always mentioned God anytime she was struggling with anything,” said Ikey Hedaya, Estelle's brother, per AP. “She had reached a different level spiritually, which allowed her to excel in all other areas.”
  • Local authorities said there are no more bodies to be found where the building once stood. Fire Chief Alan Cominsky has said that crews found no evidence that anyone who was found dead had survived the initial collapse a month ago.

What they're saying: “Nothing we can say or do will bring back these 98 angels, who left behind grieving families, beloved friends, loved ones across this community and across the world," Levine Cava said Monday.

  • "But we have done everything possible to bring closure to the families, and I am especially proud that through these tireless efforts, we were able at last to bring closure to all those who reported missing loved ones,"

Go deeper: Remembering the victims of the Surfside condo collapse

Editor's Note: This story has been updated following a press conference with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and other officials.

Go deeper