SURFSIDE, Fla. – Emma Guara, 4, was wearing a silver necklace her mother had given her recently when her body was discovered from the ruins of a Florida condominium collapse last month. The pendant was shaped like half a heart and read “Little Sis.”
Lucia Guara, 11, was not wearing her nearly-matching necklace, which was shaped like the other half of a heart and labeled “Big Sis,” when firefighters discovered her. According to their aunt, Digna Rodriguez, Lucia had suffered an adverse response and had temporarily stopped wearing hers.
“We’d like to get that jewelry back,” Rodriguez expressed his desire. “Those necklaces were a hit with them.”
Anaely Rodriguez and Marcus Guara, the daughters’ parents, were also slain in the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South, which killed at least 94 people and left 22 others missing. They were among the first people to be rescued from the wreckage. Last Monday, the girls were buried together in the same casket, Emma wearing her necklace.
Authorities are also trying to collect keepsakes for families who have lost relatives and for surviving inhabitants of the building as they hunt through tons of broken concrete and twisted rebar for more bodies. They’ve put up a database where users can submit missing property information.
Crews take images and use GPS to register the location of personal belongings every time they find them. They’ve built a grid of the pile, estimating the location of each family’s condo unit. The artifacts are placed in a bin by the detectives. They are transported to a location where they will be cataloged and sealed in bags. Then they’re loaded into a secure freight container and transported to a warehouse.
According to Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez, there would be a “estate process” to collect the deceased’s belongings and ensure that they reach the rightful heir.
Because the collapse of a residential tower “is not your everyday event,” Miami-Dade police Sgt. Danny Murillo, a commander of the operation, said the method had to be designed through “trial and error.” When a child’s toy is discovered, he says it might be upsetting.
He stated, “We are all human.”
Rachel Spiegel, whose 66-year-old mother, Judy Spiegel, died in the fall, is hoping that the teams will recover her family’s belongings. Her mother’s body was discovered on Friday.
Rachel Spiegel remarked, “All my parents’ things over a lifetime is gone.” “Their wedding album is no longer with us. My father’s wine collection is gone, as is all of my mother’s jewelry, clothing, and the dress she wore at my wedding, which I had hoped to wear one day. All of their possessions have vanished. We don’t have anything.”
Crews are finding objects as small as rings and jewels in the rubble, according to Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, who has visited the scene many times since the collapse.
Burkett stated, “The job is so delicate that we’re finding undamaged wine bottles.” Search teams frequently know what to look for in specific portions of the pile because of the information provided by families, he added. He showed a picture of a ring that was discovered in the wreckage near where searchers thought it would be.
“They’re expecting to find these things,” says the narrator. And they did in this situation,” Burkett added.
According to Ramirez, religious property is given special consideration. Rabbis examined the processing area to check that religious artifacts are maintained and handled properly. He stated that some of the items are quite important.
“It could be the tiniest of objects that to the untrained eye appear to be nothing more than a little container. It truly refers to generations. It’s incredibly spiritual, and I’m blown away. Our policemen are learning a lot about different cultures “he stated “There are so many different dynamics with melancholy and sorrow.”