Surfside, Florida—Estelle Hedaya, a beloved member of the Continental Buying Group and Preferred Jewelers International teams, is among those unaccounted for following the partial collapse of a beachfront condominium in Surfside, Florida.
The ocean-facing wing of the 12-story Champlain Towers South collapsed around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday.
About 55 of the building’s 136 units came down, The New York Times
reported, trapping hundreds of people inside, many of whom were likely asleep at the time of the collapse.
Hedaya is one of the building’s residents.
Originally from Queens, Hedaya worked in the jewelry industry in her native New York for years before relocating to Florida to take the job with CBG about six years ago.
She is the director of operations for both CBG and Preferred Jewelers International, working with many suppliers and retailers.
CBG shared the news that Hedaya is among the missing via social media Thursday morning, posting on Instagram, “Please pray for our Estelle … We are devastated, but hopeful she will be found and safe.”
The posting was met with an outpouring of prayers and well wishes from members of the jewelry industry, and friends also flooded Hedaya’s Facebook page
with messages of support and prayers.
“Estelle was my succession plan and was right on track,” CBG President Andie Weinman told National Jeweler via email on Friday.
“We just had our show in Vegas and had never seen her as happy and thriving in her career. She is exceptional working with this organization.”
As of Friday morning, the number of those unaccounted for had risen to 159 from 99, authorities said in a press conference.
The number of people accounted for stands at 120 while four have been confirmed dead.
Officials emphasized Friday that the operation is still is a search-and-rescue mission.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade County’s urban search and rescue team are using dogs, sonar, and cameras to search through the rubble via the parking garage located beneath the building.
“We still have hope we will find people alive,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.