One year ago, I got a telephone call from an engineer, Eduard Badiu. It was a little after 6 a.m., and his call woke me up. He called to tell me that people would need my help because a terrible tragedy happened with a condominium collapsing. His voice was afraid. He told me he was on a special task force and was going to the loss.

Yesterday morning, tears were being wiped from my cheeks while listening to family members of victims during the Champlain Towers South Collapse settlement fairness hearing. Personal tragedy and the profound grief suffered by those cannot be overstated. Yet, those suffering were giving thanks to a group that is not so often publicly thanked – lawyers. Yesterday morning, I felt humbled to be thanked for being part of what was really a “dream team” of lawyers. One victim said we were angels and heroes in suits.

Before I write anything more about anybody, first responders are our heroes. I went to dinner last night with Chris Aldrich, who is an officer of the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (NAPIA). Chris is a firefighter from Toms River, New Jersey. We were talking about the hearing and the facts about the case. He mentioned Florida Task Forces 1 and 2 as responders who deserved special recognition. It was not a pleasant conversation because of what Chris explained they were faced with after the collapse. I found this in an article:

[T]he men and women who make up Florida Task Forces 1 and 2, the first teams to respond to the condo collapse on June 24, 2021.

‘We train and we train all year long, and there’s nothing to prepare you to that level,’ said Miami-Dade Firefighter Frank Garcia.

He and his K9, Zoe, were some of the first to race to the collapse site. Garcia said he received a call around 2 a.m. and was in Surfside an hour later.

‘The emotional toll, it’s something,’ he said. ‘It takes a toll after so much time.’

I found another article:

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis joined Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces to present them one-time relief checks beginning to be distributed through the ‘Florida’s Heroes’ initiative. This initiative is an opportunity to recognize law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and firefighters in the state of Florida with a one-time relief payment of up to $1,000 as an appreciation of the many selfless sacrifices made throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Florida’s first responders deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their service,’ said Governor Ron DeSantis. ‘The men and women joining me here today from Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces 1 and 2 are the best of the best. We thank them for their tireless response in Surfside and hope these relief checks express our gratitude for all that they have done in our state.’

‘First responders risk their lives daily to save ours,’ said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. ‘Every day, these men and women put on the uniform, leave their families, defy instinct and run into harm’s way to keep our communities safe. I’m proud that our administration is honoring them today by providing bonuses to Florida’s heroes.’

‘The members of US&R Task Forces 1 and 2 are heroes,’ said Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle. ‘We are here today to show our appreciation for their work and assist the Governor as he continues to fulfill his commitment to providing relief payments to Florida’s first responders.’

After his first messages and calls, Ed Badiu called and texted me about his experiences. We were discussing what had happened while, at the same time, he was involved with search, rescue, and recovery. At one point, he wrote to me that he could not go back—he needed a break. God bless him and those responding.

My father was a Coast Guard officer. Recovery of the deceased is never easy for the family members or those with the job of recovery.

Before I write more on this historic case resolution, and given the anniversary of the tragedy, please pause for a moment of your time to reflect on what first responders endure. Then, think of what action or acknowledgment you can make for thanks for their service.

Thought For The Day

No cause justifies the deaths of innocent people.
—Albert Camus