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Keep searching rubble for human remains, some Surfside families urge

Linda Robertson, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI — Martin Langesfeld held up an envelope from the Miami-Dade County medical examiner’s office on Tuesday as he stood in front of the property once occupied by the Champlain Towers South condominium. Inside was a forensics report from July notifying the Langesfeld family about the recovery of the remains of Nicole Langesfeld, who died in the June 24 collapse of the Surfside building.

“We have a very, very, very small percentage of my sister,” Langesfeld said. “My father had to sign a release stating we have less than 50%.”

The search for more of Nicole’s remains, and for more of any remains of the 98 victims of the collapse, should continue, and the rubble deposited at a lot in Doral should be combed through again, Langesfeld and other family members said during an emotional press conference as they urged the county not to dispose of the debris.

The county wants permission from the judge overseeing the Surfside class-action case to clear an outdoor lot and discard debris considered less important for the engineers investigating the cause of the collapse. That material is being stored in an indoor warehouse.

“Over the past several months the county, through the Miami-Dade police department, has carefully and thoroughly sifted through the rubble at the outdoor lot and is confident that all human remains and items of value have been recovered,” Michael Goldberg, court-appointed receiver for the condo association, wrote to Judge Michael Hanzman asking him to authorize disposal.

But disposal would be premature and insensitive, Langesfeld said. Although some families have been allowed to visit the site, his family is among those who have not had access.


“Why can’t I see where you have my sister? It is heartbreaking. It is inhumane,” Langesfeld said of Nicole, 26, a Miami lawyer and newlywed whose husband, Luis Sadovnic, 28, also died in the collapse. They were engaged on the beach and were living in her grandfather’s unit 804. “It is unbelievable that after 100 days Miami-Dade has decided to throw away human body parts. How is it possible that human bones, human fingers, human legs and human heads are being thrown away in the trash? This is not how you honor anyone.”

David Rodan, whose 28-year-old brother Moises and three cousins died in the collapse of the 13-story building in the middle of the night, said families are not ready to give up on the recovery process.

“It’s disgusting to think there are still human remains in there and they’re being disrespected and just thrown away because the county said they tried hard enough,” Rodan said. “Well, it’s not hard enough if they haven’t found all the pieces.”

Lisa Shrem, a rabbi from New York, came to Miami after the collapse and waited 33 days for best friend Estelle Hedaya to be recovered. Hedaya’s remains were the last to be identified; her forearm was found at the Doral lot.


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