A Long Island woman who relocated to Florida has been confirmed dead in the condo building collapsed that has claimed at least 93 other lives as of Monday, her family confirmed.
The body of Judy Spiegel, who grew up in South Bellmore and spent time in Plainview and Southampton, was found on July 9, according to her daughter who described learning the news as "one of the hardest days of our lives."
The 66-year-old was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. She was living on the sixth floor of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, when the structure suddenly collapsed more than two weeks ago.
“We are still in shock you know, this is not something we could have predicted. We are really heartbroken," Spiegel's daughter, Rachel, said.
Recovery teams discovered Spiegel near the bedroom of her sixth-floor condo nearly three weeks after the building collapse.
"While this was the absolute worst news in the world, we are happy that we have been reunited," Spiegel's daughter, Rachel, said in a Facebook post thanking first responders for recovering her mother's body as well as friends who supported her and her two brothers, Michael and Josh, for the past 18 days.
Another Long Island native, Brad Cohen, is still among at least 22 people who are missing. His brother Gary was found Thursday, and Brad's two children are begging rescuers to search a similar grid line to find their father.
The recovery effort has been non-stop, fraught with danger and emotionally draining for the search and rescue teams.
"It's actually surreal when you first get there. It's overwhelming," said Kevin Morrissey.
Morrissey heads an elite team of 80 search and rescue experts from New Jersey that traveled to Florida to assist with the efforts. Task Force One, Morrissey's team, plans on staying until they finish the job and find all the victims in the collapse.
“With any building collapse obviously it’s unstable, there’s rebar sticking out. It’s constantly moving and shift, there's a lot of heavy equipment to assist in the recovery effort," he explained.
Spiegel's family plans to hold her funeral in Florida on Tuesday. Rachel hopes her mother will be remembered as a kind and selfless person who put her family above all else.
"My mom was the kindest most selfless person most enthusiastic. We are going to have to live with this pain for the rest of our lives," Rachel said.