Surfside condo collapse

‘No Time Left For Miracles' as Grim Reality Sets In

The personalities of Surfside victims are only hinted at through pictures. Memories keep them alive. 

NBC Universal, Inc.

If you look through the fence of what has become known as the Surfside memorial wall, you can see the recovery operation taking place on the rubble pile a block away.

With flowers and photographs and tributes to the missing and the dead, it overwhelms you with heartbreak, but it’s also a place to look for the helpers.

Celine Churchman brought 300 donated flowers from her club at Braddock Senior High School, about 30 miles away. 

"We’re spreading kindness, this is just one step in what we all need to do together to help relieve families, relieve Surfside and show support to first responders and the victims,” said Celine, who will be a junior at Braddock in the fall. 

The victims she mentioned are on the fence, smiling in better times. Imagine seeing your loved one’s picture on the memorial wall. Estelle Hedaya’s photograph is up there, surrounded by flowers. 

For Joe Murphy, Hedaya was more than his company’s chief operating officer, more than an employee. She was family. 

“I don’t know anyone that had a bad word to say about Estelle, that’s the type of person she is, or was,” Murphy said. 

Estelle Hedaya

I asked if it was hard to talk about her in the past tense.

Surfside Condo Collapse

Complete coverage of the Surfside Condo Collapse

Engineers hired by Champlain Towers South go public with where they think first failure occurred

“I just did it, it was very hard, it’s very emotional, sometimes you just want to try to forget about it,” Murphy said. 

Murphy says Estelle was not only popular at his jewelry company, the Continental Buying Group, she was well-liked throughout the industry. The last two weeks have been a kind of slow-motion torture for Murphy and all the families who have been waiting on word from the authorities. 

“It’s felt like two years, you know, you keep on hoping and praying there would be a miracle and she would be the miracle,” Murphy said. “Ari, when it said rescue to recovery, that’s when it hit home, that’s when it hit home, that’s when, you know, when the brave men and women and dogs that are out there say that we’re going to recovery, you have to accept the fact that a miracle isn’t going to happen.”

The personalities are only hinted at through pictures. Memories keep them alive. 

“She’s from Brooklyn, she has that Brooklyn accent, she has that loud voice, and God, I miss it,” said Murphy.

Now, he says he and his wife and everyone at his office are just praying the search teams find Estelle’s body soon. 

Contact Us