Miami condo collapse: Daughter holds out hope as Surfside search continues

·3-min read
People attend a community vigil on the beach for those missing after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida on June 28, 2021. (Giorgio Viera/AFP)
A community vigil on the beach in Surfside, Fla., on Monday for those missing after the collapse of Champlain Towers South. (Giorgio Viera/AFP)

The daughter of Judy Spiegel, a woman who is still missing after Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., collapsed on Thursday, is holding out hope that her mother will be found.

In an interview with Yahoo News, Rachel Spiegel described her mother as a great person she always could have fun with.

“I went with my parents to a party once. … [My mom and I] decided to go to the bathroom and change outfits. We changed dresses and shoes and jewelry because we were the same size, and we were like, ‘We’ll see who comes up to us and notices it.’ We had so much silly fun,” Rachel said Tuesday, describing one of her favorite memories with her mom.

Judy Spiegel bought a condo in Surfside with her husband in 2017, but didn't begin living there regularly until the COVID-19 pandemic, to help Rachel, who lives nearby, take care of her young children.

“She’s a good person, she’s a really loyal friend. She texts everybody on their anniversaries, on their birthdays, calls them. She has certain people she calls every single day. She was really the one who connected us with friends for a lifetime,” Rachel continued.

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The night of the collapse, Rachel’s father was out of town, but he happened to check his email, which notified him of what had happened. By 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, Rachel and her husband were at the site of the fallen condominium. Investigators are still probing the cause of the collapse. As of Tuesday, there were 11 confirmed fatalities, with more than 150 people still missing.

Rachel has been going to the site every day with her family. “We’re really trying hard to do everything we can to find her,” she said.

The last time she spoke to her mother was on Wednesday night. Judy had remembered a dress that Rachel’s daughter wanted from Target and texted Rachel to tell her she had bought it. Since then, the dress has arrived at Rachel’s house.

“I know you’re with us — especially last night when the dress arrived. Mommy, wherever you are, know how much I love you. You are the best thing that ever happened to me. The thought of not being able to call you, text you, hold your hand … I’m heartbroken and devastated. We’re not losing hope, Mommy! Still praying for a miracle,” Rachel wrote on Instagram, where she has been posting about her mom since the collapse.

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In addition to Judy's dedication to the family, Rachel explains that her mother was very involved in two charities. One of her best friends was June Scobee Rodgers, the wife of the late Challenger space shuttle commander Dick Scobee, and she worked with her to support the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a nonprofit started by the families of the astronauts who died in the 1986 Challenger disaster. Judy also worked to spread awareness about the Holocaust.

As Rachel and her brothers, Joshua and Michael, await news on the rescue efforts, which have entered their sixth day, they have created the Judy Spiegel Family Support Fund to support their father, Kevin, and continue Judy’s philanthropic causes.

“I’m hopeful, I have to be,” Rachel said. “Until we have an answer, I’m hopeful.”


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