Husband and daughter reflect on loss in Surfside collapse one year ago

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
The Surfside building collapse. (Credit: WINK News)

A memorial wall stands to remember those, like Judy Spiegal, who died at Surfside one year ago.

Her husband, Kevin Speigal, and daughter, Rachel Spiegal, have had to go on without her, confiding in one another to get by.

But when the Champlain Towers South collapsed, killing Kevin’s wife and Rachel’s mom, their lives changed forever. Devastated, they don’t have family heirlooms, clothes, or photos; all were gone in the blink of an eye when the tower fell.

Now, Judy Speigal’s name is one of almost 100 on a memorial wall honoring those who died in the tragic event.

Kevin was asked what his life was like without his wife. In tears, Kevin said, “It’s not the same. It’s absolutely not the same. It’s not the same for Rachel. It’s not the same for Michael. It’s not the same for Josh. For Sloane for Scarlet, I mean life for us is not the same. This has been the worst year of our life.”

Rachel added, “She was the person I, like, shared everything with. I didn’t have any secrets with her. She’s the person I called in the car. She’s the person I bounced ideas off of and shared everything with. And I saw her almost every day.”

“I mean, it’s not getting better,” Kevin said. “If anything. You know, maybe you could say the first six months, we didn’t believe it was true.”

Rachel said, “But at the same time, it feels like because we never said goodbye. Um, because literally every single thing was erased. In an instance, like all of our stuff is gone. All of her stuff is gone.”

Kevin said, “Her diamond ring is gone. Everything. We lost 100% of every single thing we had just gone in it in an instant.”

Rachel said, “It feels like my mom is on this strange vacation. Because we never said goodbye. We never you know, when someone’s sick, there’s a different process.”

“You can go to the hospital and see them even if they’re not going to make it,” Kevin said. “We had no process. Nothing.”

Seeing Judy’s name on the wall is as close as they can get to the woman they loved. At 1:22 a.m. Friday morning, a private vigil will be held for the families of the victims. The exact anniversary of the collapse.

One of the questions that still remain is, did the city government do everything it could do in the hours after the collapse?

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