SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - Loved ones of the Surfside victims are speaking out about what they think should become of the site of the collapse.
The judge handling the case said he would like to monetize the site as quickly as possible. They believe it could fetch between $100 million and $130 million.
The money garnered would go to the victims, but some of the families said they know that’s supposed to happen, but they want something else there, not a condominium.
“This is a holy land,” said Martin Langesfeld, the brother of a victim. “There are still bodies there. There’s people unaccounted for. My sister and my brother-in-law, their remains are still in this building.”
“It’s a cemetery for Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. It’s sacred and nothing can be built over it,” said Soraya Cohen, the wife of a victim.
Hundreds lived in the Champlain Towers South and at least 97 died there.
A judge is putting in place a process to sell the property, promising to compensate the surviving families as quickly as possible.
“It’s not going to be business as usual, it is going to be moved at extreme speed,” said Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Michael Hanzman.
Some of those left behind want something else.
“There’s a better solution,” Cohen said. “The federal, local or state government can step in, they can buy the land, they can compensate unit owners. I think it should just be, like, a beautiful memorial with flowers.”
This comes as 911 calls showed the panic and confusion in the early morning hours of June 24.
“Hurry up! Hurry up! There’s a big explosion,” said a caller.
“I’m reporting a collapse in a garage,” said another caller.
“Half the building’s gone!” said another caller.
“The building just went in a sinkhole,” said another caller.
“I think the roof collapsed in the building. A bunch of us are in the garage, but we cannot get out,” said another caller.
Now, three weeks later, the fate of the site is in the hands of the courts.
Hanzman met with attorneys representing many of the families, putting 20 civil suits on a fast track.
“This is a very unique case in all respects,” said attorney Brad Sohn. “We’ve gotten started, essentially immediately. Our job is really to provide a public service to this community.”
Cohen had a message for the judge on authorizing a quick sale.
“Brad hasn’t even been recovered yet. He’s in there somewhere,” she said. “It’s just a measure of pain to me and my family. Please don’t do it.”
“The sale of land needs to go through, but I’m asking a good and private entity or public entity, someone will make a memorial out of this and step in for us,” one man said.
The judge also asked attorneys to come up with a structure so that he can handle all of the civil lawsuits.
He is set to meet with them again on Friday.
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