Surfside relatives say leaders must do more to help families

“As time goes on and the cameras begin to disappear, so do our political leaders,” said Martin Langesfeld, who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the tragic condominium collapse.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Martin Langesfeld, who lost his sister and brother-in-law in the Surfside condo collapse, had some strong words for local leaders who he says have abandoned his family.

“As time goes on and the cameras begin to disappear, so do our political leaders,” he said.

Langesfeld joined religious leaders and other relatives of Surfside victims Tuesday at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse for a news conference.

The group is demanding better handling of the rubble that likely still contains human remains — and demanding officials do more.

“Four months ago, [Miami-Dade County] Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Governor Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden came to tell me they would always be here for us,” said Langesfeld. “It’s been four months of constant requests and four months of being constantly ignored.”

He said he still has less than 50% of his loved ones’ remains and believes not enough is being done to recover the rest.

Like other relatives, he has yet to be allowed on the site where the rubble was moved to be processed. The group believes it’s being mishandled, fearing authorities are disposing of the rubble without checking.

“Why after four months could I not see where you have my sister?” asked Langesfeld. “What are you hiding from us?”

The group compared the investigation to the September 11 attacks, saying investigators in New York spent years finding remains and that the same should be done in this case.

Some relatives are also demanding the collapse site be preserved. They want to see a memorial in its place instead of another condo on-site when so many questions remain about how the tower collapsed.

David Rodan, who lost his brother in the June 24 tragedy that killed 98, said there are several ways local, state and federal leaders can get involved.

The most difficult would be to help raise funds to purchase the beachfront property, but he said there are other alternatives like a land swap deal or allowing for only partial development of the site.

An online petition calling for the site to be used for a memorial has more than 7,700 signatures. You can reach out to Monica Iken at or 917-476-3876 with questions or for more information.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.