Another victim and the final missing person from the partial building collapse in Surfside, Florida, was identified Monday, bringing the death toll to 98 people.
At a Monday news conference, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the final missing person’s family had been told after the identification of the person’s remains, which ended the search.
According to an update from Miami-Dade police, the final missing person was identified as Estelle Hedaya, who was 54 years old.
“As we enter month two alone, without any other families, we feel helpless,” her younger brother told The Associated Press on Friday.
“Nothing we can say or do can bring back these 98 angels,” Levine Cava said, “who left behind grieving families, beloved friends, and loved ones across this community and across the world.”
“I’m especially proud that through these efforts, we were able to bring closure to all those that reported missing loved ones.”
Firefighters stopped looking for bodies Friday and police officers were set to continue looking for human remains, as well as personal belongings, in the debris.
As NBC News reported, “Officials had originally said that as many as 159 people were unaccounted for, but detectives worked for weeks to cross-check reports of missing people that may have been multiples or already accounted for.”
“The recovery and identification of the last remains do not mark the end of sifting through the debris. Crews are still digging out evidence to be catalogued for the investigation and personal belongings — including religious items, firearms, photo albums and jewelry — to hopefully return to the victims’ families,” the outlet noted.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the community of South Florida has begun to weigh how best to honor the lives that were lost in the collapse.
“There’s a lot of emotion. People talk about it as a holy site,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez. “People want some sort of connection with their family member.”
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett made a suggestion earlier this month that it’s too early to specify any plans since many people are still in the grieving process, but he noted that the event obliges something to be put at the location to honor the people who died, according to NBC Miami.
“I think the first thing we need to do is get the families situated, so they have a semblance of their life back — get them to the point where they aren’t burdened by the grief and emotion that they’re going through right now,” said Burkett.
“It’s obvious that this has become much more than a collapsed building site,” Burkett said. “It has become a holy site.”
The people who were affected by the tragedy will reportedly be able to receive some compensation for their loss.
As reported by The Guardian, “At a hearing, Miami-Dade circuit judge Michael Hanzman ordered that the process begin to sell the site of the Champlain Towers South, which could fetch $100m to $110m, according to court records.”
The ruling came at the same time as the first lawsuits stemming from the collapse, filed largely by families of the missing and deceased. No cause has been determined for what led to the building collapsing, but there may have been prior indications and warnings that the building was unstable.
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