State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Wednesday that the Miami-Dade County grand jury would come up with recommendations into ways to prevent tragedies such as the June 24 condo collapse in Surfside from happening again
A grand jury will be formed in Miami-Dade County to look into ways to prevent disasters such as the deadly collapse of the condo in Surfside from happening again.
State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced on Wednesday that she had requested the grand jury to, ‘look into how we can prevent such a disaster from occurring again, not just in Surfside, and not just in condominiums, but in all building and structures in the coastal and intercoastal and surrounding areas of our county, state and nation.’
In its investigation, she said, it would look into broader building code issues, ‘pending the conclusion of the long-term investigation that will yield the cause of the collapse.’
The announcement came as the death toll from the June 24 collapse rose to 54 with 86 still missing as officials announced the shift from search-and-rescue operations to recovery on Wednesday, and a moment of silence was observed to mark the change.
‘As a community, we remain shaken and horrified by the immense loss of life and the sheer destruction caused by the collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium building,’ Rundle said in a statement.
Rundle’s announcement came as the death toll from the June 24 collapse rose to 54 with 86 still missing as officials announced the shift from search-and-rescue operations to recovery as workers combed the ruins Wednesday (pictured)
Crews recovered 18 bodies from the rubble of the collapsed condo in Surfside Wednesday, the highest single-day total, bringing the death toll to 54
The shift in operations came as the search efforts entered their 13th day
Rescue crews worked amid the debris Wednesday, but no further survivors have been found since hours immediately after the collapse
The search and rescue teams held a moment of silence to mark the shift from search and rescue operations to recovery Wednesday evening
She cited safety improvements to building code in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 as a result of the adoption of a previous Miami-Dade grand jury’s recommendations.
Grand juries in the county typically serve two roles: to issue indictments for first-degree murder and to look into public health and safety issues, according to the Miami Herald.
Other examples of reports grand juries in the county have compiled include those involving the financial state of Miami’s public hospital system, the treatment of mentally ill inmates in county jails and environmental issues among many others, the outlet reported.
While criminal indictments are possible, Rundle appeared to indicate with her statement that the panel would focus on ways to prevent a repeat of the Surfside tragedy.
Rundle cited in her statement Wednesday safety improvements to building code in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 as a result of the adoption of a previous Miami-Dade grand jury’s recommendations
She said she hopes the current grand jury would produce a report by the end of its term in October with recommendations that will put Miami-Dade residents at ease.
The investigation is among several already launched into the cause of the collapse.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which investigated the collapse of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, announced on June 30 that it would conduct a technical investigation into the cause of the collapse with the goal of also coming up with recommendations to prevent a similar disaster.
The organization said its investigation could take years.
Additionally, five civil lawsuits have also been filed against the condo administration on behalf of the condo residents, both living and presumed dead.
Already theories have swirled into what caused the deadly disaster.
Engineers say a video of water and debris gushing into the Miami condo parking garage supports the possibility that the pool deck caved first and dragged the building down with it.
The video was taken from the street, peering down a ramp into the underground level of the Champlain Towers South complex, seconds before it collapsed on June 24. It is further proof that the complex imploded from the pool deck inwards, engineers say.
‘Something was happening a few minutes before the building comes down. There was something happening around this deck area [above the debris].
A video was taken from the street, peering down a ramp into the underground level of the Champlain Towers South complex, seconds before it collapsed on June 24. It is further proof that the complex imploded from the pool deck inwards, engineers say
‘For this type of flat slab construction, my hypothesis is the punching shear began at this slab level,’ Abi Aghayere, a Drexel University engineering researcher, told The Miami Herald on July 2.
‘It looks like the slab fell down. This is certainly the first place where we see structural damage before the collapse.
Her theory was supported by Dawn Lehman, a professor of engineering at the University of Washington.
‘This is certainly the first place where we see structural damage before the collapse,’ she said.
A video recorded seven minutes before the building collapsed shows water pouring down from the ceiling of the garage. It comes amid concerns from a structural engineer that the swimming pool deck may have caved in first and brought down the rest of the building with it, as corroborated by witnesses who say that sections of the pool deck had collapsed into the garage below
The slab that crumbled was exactly where Frank Morabito, an engineer hired by the collapsed tower association, identified severe concrete erosion in 2018.
It is also around where a contractor saw water forming in a puddle just 36 hours before the collapse.
Experts who have viewed video of the collapse are unanimous in their belief that the collapse started with a problem at the bottom of the building – either in the parking garage or on the pool deck.
The 2020 report details how at five sites, paving stones were lifted, concrete demolished and landscaping was removed in order to access what lie underneath
There are some theories that the eroded columns in the parking garage may have also been partially to blame.
Others say though that the columns were intact and that once the building started to implode.
Some say there is evidence of punching shear failure which is when the slabs above a column fail and the column punches through it.
They think as much because some of the collapsed columns remain in place. That would not explain the collapse or the cause of it, but paints a picture of how the building might have fallen.
Other engineers also say there had to have been one or a combination of other contributing factors, like corroded rebar – which was identified in the pool equipment room, beneath the pool and next to the garage, 36 hours before it collapsed.
Drilling took place up to a foot down in order to determine the structure of the concrete below. The work ‘yielded some curious results as it pertained to the structural slab’s depth’ – but the reason as to why the results were ‘curious’ was not explained
A close up of the rubble taken on June 24, just a few hours after the collapse, show how part of the pool deck had given way to and crumbled
Civil engineers who viewed the view told the Post that the first part of the building to fall was where the failure was, and that the second portion only fell because it was dragged down by the debris from the first portion that fell.
‘[It] wasn’t catastrophic failure. What that was [was] the debris underneath — probably a combination of half pulling it over and then piling up against the columns — and it finally failed.
‘And then it comes down,’ Scott Homrich, the president of the National Demolition Association, said.
‘The reason for that is that part on the right side — its columns were still okay. The structure of that building was still good. It’s still holding it up.
‘But because it’s dragging, being dragged down by the rest of the building to the left of it, it starts leaning to the left, which also causes extra stresses on it because it’s not designed to be leaning to the left.
‘But then also it’s just being pulled down,’ Albert Bleakley, a professor of mechanical and civil engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology,’ said.