In a tragic irony, man who devoted life to structural engineering among dead in Surfside collapse

Simon Segal, 80, spent his career as a structural engineer, even consulting for the state of Florida. He died in the Champlain Towers building collapse. (WPLG)

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Simon Segal’s life was an accomplishment in structural engineering and construction. And, he was devoted to his craft.

He was a product control reviewer for the State of Florida, analyzing test reports on Florida Building Codes, including structural components, pouring over plans and specifications about the state’s condominium and office building construction.

In a tragic irony, the 80-year-old died after the condominium he lived in, Apartment 1203, came crashing down on June 24 in a catastrophic collapse of the Champlain Towers South.

Segal owned a construction company in Miami Beach and had worked throughout Florida as an engineer with experience in structural design.

In his career, he had years of experience in structural engineering and a knowledge of beams, columns, slabs and footings, reinforced concrete, and stress-design methods and structural components.

He was a real estate broker, a mortgage broker, and was fluent in Spanish, and, what he described as conversational in three other languages, Portuguese, Italian and French.

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1941, he majored in structural and civil engineering at Cornell University and earned three masters’ degrees. One he received in construction management in 1982, the other in finance in 1987, and an MBA in 1999, all from Florida International University. He later taught real estate development and finance as an adjunct profession in the College of Business Administration at FIU.

Segal’s body was recovered on Tuesday, July 6 — a victim of tragedy that was ironically at the very essence of his many-year career.

A detailed report by a structural engineer, much like Segal himself, noted some problems in the structural integrity of the building in 2018, including damage near the base of the Champlain Towers. That consultant, however, did not give indication that the structure was at risk of imminent collapse.

(See the report)


About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local