The final missing victim in thehas been identified, bringing the death toll to 98, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Monday. The announcement comes days after authorities ended their search for bodies at the site and more than a month after the deadly collapse.
“Nothing we can say or do will bring back these 98 angels who left behind grieving families, beloved friends, loved ones across this community and across the world,” Levine Cava said at a press conference. “But we have done everything possible to bring closure to the families.”
While all of the victims who were reported missing have been identified, Levine Cava said the Miami-Dade Police Department is still searching the evidentiary pile “to ensure that all identifiable human remains are recovered.” In total, 242 people were accounted for, she said.
The 98th victim was identified by her family as 54-year-old Estelle Hedaya. Her brother, Ikey Hedaya, told CBS Miami that her remains will be flown to the family’s home in Midwood, Brooklyn, for a Jewish funeral followed by Shiva. Ikey said he had provided DNA samples and had visited the collapse site twice before his sister’s body was identified.
“She always mentioned God anytime she was struggling with anything,” he told The Associated Press. “She had reached a different level spiritually, which allowed her to excel in all other areas.”
Levine Cava’s announcement marks the end of a weekslong mission to find and identify the victims of the devastating incident, which took place in the early hours of June 24. Rescuers moved millions of pounds of the debris beforehad ended on Friday.
The site of the collapse is now mostly flat. Most of the debris has been moved to a new area, where police are continuing to search through it for victims’ personal items, Levine Cava said.
Levine Cava said she has visited the area where searchers are now reviewing the debris, and described it as “very moving.”
“They are working hours upon hours in the sun, in the rain, and when they find something, it’s a treasure,” she said. “They are doing this with tremendous care and real hope that they can bring things to the family members.”