Daughter of NY woman killed in Fla. condo collapse hopes search crews will find family mementos


This Tuesday, June 29, 2021, photo shows a memorial wall for the victims of the Champlain Towers South building collapse in Surfside, Fla., with a photo of Judy Spiegel. Spiegel’s relatives hope that recovery crews will be able to find their family’s mementos. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Recovery crews at the Florida condominium collapse are cataloging all personal possessions found in the rubble in hopes of returning them to families of the dead or survivors.

Each time they find items, they take photos and record the location using a grid. Crews know approximately where each families’ condo unit should be. The objects are then bagged, tagged and placed in bins so they can eventually be returned. 

Rachel Spiegel, who lost her 66-year-old mother, Judy Spiegel, in the collapse, hopes the crews will find her family’s mementos. Her mother’s remains were recovered Friday.

“All my parents’ stuff over a lifetime is gone,” Rachel Spiegel said. “Their wedding album is gone. My dad’s wine collection is gone, all my mom’s jewelry, all my mom’s clothes, the dress she wore at my wedding that I wanted to wear one day. All of their belongings are gone. We have nothing.”

Spiegel lived for her family and would go to any length to show her love. She had been swimming with her two granddaughters recently when one of them remarked how much she wanted a specific Disney princess dress.

The dress was sold out, Rachel said, but the doting grandmother immediately began hunting across several stores until she found it.

“She’s very thoughtful, she cared about the details,” a tearful Rachel told The Associated Press. “She was certainly the matriarch of our family.”

Her daughter joked that Judy was a terrible cook, but whenever anyone came to the house, she knew everyone’s favorite foods and quirks and made sure everything was perfectly arranged. She never went a night without her beloved Ben and Jerry’s chocolate ice cream, her daughter said.

She was also a passionate advocate for Holocaust awareness.

“My mom is an incredible person. She has the best heart and we need to find her.”

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