Mother missing after condo collapse known as philanthropist who raised money for children

More than a day after a large part of the Chaplain Towers Condominium building collapsed, the family of 65-year old Judy Spiegel is remaining optimistic she is still alive under the rubble waiting to be rescued.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than a day after a large part of the Chaplain Towers Condominium building collapsed, the family of 65-year old Judy Spiegel is remaining optimistic she is still alive under the rubble waiting to be rescued.

“We have to hold out hope. We don’t have another option,” daughter Rachel Spiegel said.

Nearly 160 people are still unaccounted for and at least four are dead after the seaside condominium tower collapsed early Thursday morning.

Rescuers used both heavy equipment and their own hands to comb through the wreckage on Friday in an increasingly desperate search for survivors.

MORE | Death toll in Florida collapse rises to 4; 159 still missing

“It’s just been an emotional rollercoaster. That’s the best way I can describe it,” Michael Spiegel said. “One moment she’s there and the next we are looking for her.”

Judy Spiegel was home alone on the 6th floor when her side of the building collapsed. Her husband Kevin, who was out of town when it happened, returned home and could not believe this could ever happen.

“You think that if you’re home in bed sleeping, you’re safe,” Kevin Spiegel said. “This is one of the freak accidents, you’re lying in bed sleeping and the building collapses?”

776 miles away in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a community is praying for Judy and her family.

“The Spiegel’s are very much loved in this community,” said Rabbi Shaul Perlstein.

Perlstein was the family’s previous Rabbi before they moved to South Florida.

Their former Rabbi says his phone has been ringing off the hook from Chattanoogans who are concerned about Judy.

“And everybody writing how much Judy meant to them and how she affected their lives,” Perlstein said.

Kevin Spiegel is the former CEO of Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga. His wife Judy was known as a philanthropist who also raised money for Erlanger’s children’s hospital and other causes to benefit the lives of Tennessee Valley children in need.

“There are certain legacies that she created that hopefully will last on with her name,” Kevin Spiegel said.

Erlanger Hospital released a statement saying: “We hold the Spiegel family in our hearts tonight, and we can only imagine the worry and angst that the Spiegel’s are experiencing,”

The Spiegel family said Gov. Ron DeSantis as well as members of congress have met them and other families who are missing loved ones.


About the Author:

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.