Even if you’ve seen it a dozen times, the memorial fence in Surfside still stops you in your tracks. It is just that powerful.
But it’s temporary, and some of the victims’ families are calling for a permanent tribute to be built on the Champlain Towers site.
The Langesfeld family is among them. They’ve gone through three weeks of endless pain. Nicole Langesfeld and her husband, Luis Sadovnic, died in the collapse.
“We have not been able to even start the grieving process, they recovered my sister’s body one week ago and they still have not released it, just as my brother-in-law as well, so this has been three weeks of never-ending torture,” said Martin Langesfeld.
The couple had a civil ceremony and were planning their wedding. Now their families are trying to plan their funerals, and on top of that, a judge decided yesterday that the Champlain Towers lot could be sold to developers.
“The court wants to monetize whatever property is available so that we can get money in the hands of these victims as soon as possible,” said circuit court judge Michael Hanzman.
That means the site is likely to be built upon again. The Langesfeld family wants it turned into a memorial park.
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“There’s still humans, not numbers, there’s humans, there’s family members unaccounted for below that rubble,” Martin Langesfeld said. “And the court is deciding to approve a sale for money, rather than a memorial? Seems very inhumane.”
“I completely understand their position, I don’t think anybody has any right to question what any family member, any survivor is feeling,” said Pablo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez finalized funeral arrangements Thursday for his mother and grandmother. Elena Blasser and Elena Chavez died in the building collapse. Rodriguez agrees with the judge.
“If the site’s sold, build another building, go ahead, it’s not gonna bring back our family members,” Rodriguez said, pointing out that a memorial park would likely become a place where people go to enjoy the beach access rather than commemorate the victims.
“I think a proper memorial,” Rodriguez said, “Would be setting up that fence that’s been a beacon of love and remembrance, making that a permanent memorial, I think that would be a lot more meaningful, I think having the investigation continue, both civilly and criminally into the negligence here, that would also be a proper memorial.”
The biggest travesty, Rodriguez says, would be if changes are not made to the recertification process of tall buildings and then another disaster like the Champlain Towers collapse happens again.
Martin Langesfeld said he would continue to fight for a memorial on the building site, joined, he said, by several other families of victims.