SURFSIDE, Fla. – In honor of the 98 souls that lost their lives during the tragic Champlain Towers South building collapse in Surfside on June 24, 2021, the town installed new signage Thursday around the CTS site commemorating the names of those departed.
The screen is up along the fence in front of where the Champlain Towers South once stood and displays the names of each person who was killed in the collapse that day.
“In the spot behind us there once stood a building, like every other building here on Collins Avenue. A building we all trusted would remain standing. What is now left, there is one big gaping hole in the ground, much like the big gaping hole that is left in all of us,” Chana Wasserman, whose parents died in the collapse, said.
The sign says, “Fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters… 98 souls lost their lives on June 24, 2021… forever in our hearts.”
Family members of the victims tell Local 10 they’re still taking it day by day, and that this is a good temporary commemoration until a permanent memorial is put in place.
The signage went up one day after Local 10 learned that the more than $1 billion settlement for victims of the collapse is all but final.
Pablo Langesfeld, whose daughter Nicole was killed in the collapse, says as the 1-year mark approaches, money is good to see, but that nothing will ever truly replace what he has lost.
“As far as the settlement, of course that helps a little bit, but our focus is more on the criminal investigation. We need to know what happened, who’s at fault, and who is going to be liable? This is our main focus and this is going to be something that is going to bring us some closure,” Langesfeld said.
The families say while it doesn’t necessarily bring closure, it is definitely helpful, and the attorneys who were involved in putting it together say they worked as quickly as they could to get it done.
“Everyone in this case really stepped up -- the attorneys, the mediator, Bruce Greer, and the judge,” Lead counsel co-chair Rachel Furst said.
The property is set to go up for auction on May 24, and Local 10 asked the mayor of Surfside, Shlomo Danzinger, if the signage will remain once the property is sold.
Danzinger says the idea for the sign came to him while he was campaigning, while he walked by the site without thinking twice.
“I didn’t stop to contemplate and I want to make sure that’s what people do. They come back, and as they walk by, they see those names and it means something because we shouldn’t be forgetting them,” Danzinger said.
Danzinger says they plan to work with the developer and hope they will be understanding with them until a permanent memorial is created.