Investigators say they STILL haven’t found a cause for the Surfside building collapse in Florida and say it may take another YEAR before they know
- A year has passed after the collapse of the Surfside condominium in Miami
- Investigators have still not told family members what caused the tragedy
- The collapse of the Champlain Towers South building killed 98 people in 2021
A year after one of the deadliest structural failures in American history, investigators are still none of the wiser over what caused the Surfside condominium collapse that killed 98 people in Miami.
Investigators have said it could take another year before conclusions are drawn as to the reason for the collapse of the 12-story condominium building collapsed in Surfside, Florida that killed 98 people.
‘How don’t we know what happened after a year? How don’t we know who might be liable?’ said Martin Langesfeld, whose sister Nicole was killed in the collapse, speaking to CBS Miami last week. ‘We need answers.’
A team from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been cataloging evidence from the Champlain Towers South.
Structural engineers said they are working on analyzing 3D models to help them determine a reason for the collapse.
The next step is to begin what it calls ‘invasive testing’ of physical evidence, which involves cutting into steel and concrete samples for chemical and corrosion testing.
Investigators say they still have not found the cause for deadly Surfside building collapse that killed 98 people in 2021 in Florida
Family members of the dead listed on a screen surrounding the vacant lot where the 12-story building collapsed said they want answers from authorities. It may be another year before they get answers
Search and rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30, 2021 in Surfside
‘Our engineers and scientists feel a great responsibility to get them right because this work often leads directly to changes in codes and standards that are used when constructing new buildings or renovating existing buildings,’ Tanya Brown-Giammanco, NIST’s director of disaster and failure studies wrote in a blog post.
The team is also interviewing surviving residents and first responders, reported Axios.
A slew of lawsuits, fines and maintenance issues bogged down the construction and repair of the Champlain Towers in Surfside before the collapse.
Architect William Friedman designed the Surfside condominium, 13 years after his license was suspended for six months due to a collapse.
The Miami Herald reported in September that building contractor Alfred Weisbrod lost his license amid fraud and negligence claims prior to the collapse.
The licensing agency filed three administrative claims accusing Weisbrod – who was fined three times and threatened with suspension for various offenses before he surrender his license in 1998 – of completing specialized work without the proper permits, licenses, and inspections, and of failing to complete the contracted work, mismanagement, incompetence and fraud throughout the 1980s and 90s.
The developer was also charged with tax evasion, and the architect had previously been suspended after a structure he built collapsed.
A 2018 engineering report detailed cracked and degraded concrete support beams in the underground parking garage and other problems that would cost nearly $10million to fix.
The repairs did not happen, and the estimate grew to $15million in 2021 as the owners of the building’s 136 units and its governing condo board squabbled over the cost, especially after a Surfside town inspector told them the building was safe.
The 2018 engineering report found structural deficiencies that are now the focus of several inquiries, including a grand jury investigation.
Investigators have yet to determine what caused about half of the highrise to cave in on itself in one of the deadliest building collapses in US history.
A 2018 engineering report detailed cracked and degraded concrete support beams in the underground parking garage and other problems that would cost nearly $10million to fix
The repairs did not happen, and the estimate grew to $15million in 2021 as the owners of the building’s 136 units and its governing condo board squabbled over the cost, especially after a Surfside town inspector told them the building was safe
In May, relatives of those killed agreed a settlement of almost $1 billion, at the end of an accelerated judicial process designed to bring rapid closure to the families.
A Miami court overseen by Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman announced the $997million payout on May 11.
Family members of the 98 people who died in the June 2021 horror sued the building’s insurers, developers of a neighboring apartment building, an engineering firm that warned of the tower’s structural issues, and other defendants.
The case was settled in unusually quick fashion, and was the final payout was significantly higher than predicted.
The initial pool of insurance money to settle both claims for victims who lost their homes and those who lost family members was $50 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The land on which the 12-story Champlain South tower sat has been sold for $120 million.
The judge said he wanted the insurance proceeds to go to the victims rather than be used in legal fees from protracted litigation.
The 40-year-old building with some 136 apartments collapsed on June 24, 2021, when many residents were asleep.
The devastating scenes shocked the nation, and frightened millions of people living in aging condo buildings.
Structural engineers had issued minor warnings, but nothing of serious concern, and there were no mitigating factors like extreme weather to cause the collapse.
Plaintiff attorneys had always sought the sum close to $1 billion, but attorneys thought the settlement overly ambitious.
A woman adds flowers to the memorial on June 28
Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, the youngest of the three siblings, lived on the eighth floor, in Unit 802, with his wife Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and their 11-year-old and 4-year-old daughters, Lucia and Emma. All were killed in the collapse
Mourners on June 27 stop by the makeshift memorial for the 98 who died
So little of New Yorker Estelle Hedaya’s remains were found in the collapse of the Surfside condo in Miami
Relatives of the victims embrace on July 15 during a candlelit vigil for those who died
Lawyers for the residents and their relatives said the units lost ranged in valued from about $400,000 to about $2.9 million, and the settlement needed to include compensation for trauma and potential punitive damages a jury might award.
Attorneys at the hearing didn’t disclose the breakdown of how much individual defendants were paying as part of the settlement.
The lawsuit also contended that work on the adjacent Eighty Seven Park tower damaged and destabilized a building in dire need of major structural repair.
Many families wanted a memorial to be constructed on the grounds of the building’s South tower, but their plans were foiled when the property was sold for $120 million.
A total of 55 apartments in the 136-unit condo complex collapsed, with around 80 percent of the building reportedly being occupied.
Officials said at the time they believed the building had been ‘substantially full.’
After the initial recovery effort at the site was complete, officials moved the rubble to a location 14 miles from the condos, near Miami International Airport.
The rubble has been separated into two piles, based on supposed value of the evidence it might hold.
The portions that crews have determined to contain possible remains are moved inside a warehouse, while the rest is left outside.
The county has requested a judge’s permission to dispose of debris they consider irrelevant to the investigation, but families aren’t convinced all the remains have been found.
The Champlain Tower building is seen before the tragedy
The Champlain Tower South in Surfside, Florida, collapsed on June 24, 2021
Rescuers are pictured on June 27 sifting through the rubble in the search for survivors
The remaining apartments were demolished on July 4 (pictured) in a controlled explosion