Prosecutors Will ask Grand Jury to Probe Building Collapse

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) -
A South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team member looks through rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla., Monday, June 28, 2021. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

Prosecutors in Florida will pursue a grand jury investigation into the deadlycollapseof an oceanfront condominium building, officials said Tuesday.

Miami-Dade County Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference that she fully supports such an investigation. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would bring the matter before grand jurors soon.

“I am going to urge them to take a look at it,” Rundle told the Miami Herald. “Whether they do or not, it’s completely their decision.”

Grand juries in South Florida have examined other large-scale disasters, such as the 2018 collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University, which killed six people. That investigation is ongoing.

Criminal charges in such matters are possible, such as the third-degree felony murder and manslaughter charges brought in the 1996 accidental crash of ValuJet 592 in the Everglades that killed 110 people.

The grand jury’s investigation would examine factors and decisions that led to Thursday’s collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, killing at least 11 people and leaving 150 unaccounted for.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside on Thursday, the White House said.

“They want to thank the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone who has been working tirelessly around the clock and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy waiting in anguish and heartbreak for word of their loved ones,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.