Family members still coping year after losing loved ones in Surfside condo collapse

P.J. Rodriguez lost mother, grandmother in tragedy
Posted at 5:16 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 17:21:32-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — June 24 will mark one year since 98 people lost their lives in the Surfside condo collapse.

Most of the victims were asleep and unaware of what was happening when the 12-story Champlain Towers South building suddenly came crashing down.

P.J. Rodriguez lost his mother, Elena Blasser, 64, and grandmother, Elena Chavez, 88, in the tragedy.

Elena Blasser (far right) and Elena Chavez (far left) ; mother and granmother of P.J. Rodriquez
Elena Blasser (far right) and Elena Chavez (far left) were killed when the Champlain Towers South collapsed on June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Florida.

"Every day I ask myself that one, as it gets closer, it's just been a really long year," Rodriguez said. "At times it felt extremely quick as if one continuous long day, and it’s kind of hard to put into words."

Rodriguez and the families of the 98 victims have had 12 months to process the pain and agonize over the site, which is now covered with a temporary memorial.

As the first year comes to an end, Rodriguez is struggling with the days ahead and the memories of that awful day.

"It's been difficult every time I pass by there," Rodriguez said. "I initially planned on going to the events. I thought it would be nice to be there and remember them, but as we get closer I can't emotionally and just mentally I can't get myself there, so I think it'll be a step back for me, so I'm just going to spend it here with my family."

P.J. Rodriguez, lost mother and grandmother in Surfide condo collapse
P.J. Rodriguez shares the emotions of coping with the loss of his mother and grandmother a year after the Surfside condo collapse.

A settlement with the victims and their families is now close to being finalized.

The pool of money is a staggering $1 billion, but there is still no blame and no cause as to what happened.

The site itself was recently sold to a foreign developer, who has plans to rebuild with luxury condos.

"It’s also a little sad thinking there will be a brand-new high rise where my mother died, my grandmother died," Rodriguez said.

Acceptance and moving forward comes in small steps.

"They say time heals all, how much time is the question," Rodriguez said."I don't have an answer for that."