Champlain Towers Collapse Investigation Enters New Phase

Federal investigators moved evidence to a second Florida warehouse nearly two years after the catastrophe that killed 98


The federal team investigating the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Fla., is ready to begin the next phase of the inquiry after moving evidence to a new warehouse, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced. 

Miami-Dade police and NIST staff finished overseeing the transfer of 300 pieces of physical evidence originally retrieved from the Surfside site to a second warehouse, both located in Miami-Dade County, earlier this month. The move comes nearly two years after a portion of the 12-story building collapsed, killing 98 people, in the early morning hours of June 24, 2021.

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Several investigations into the cause of the collapse are ongoing, with the most comprehensive led by the NIST’s National Construction Safety Team (NCST). 

Until now, the team has been focused on eyewitness interviews, structural modeling and document review as well as cataloging and documenting close to 650 pieces of evidence. The team has also focused on nondestructive testing using visual inspection and other methods to assess the pieces of evidence without physically altering them. 

Now, it’s moving on to processing and analyzing structural evidence, including extracting samples of concrete and reinforcing steel to figure out where each piece came from within the building, which will then be used to create a 3D geospatial model to test various scenarios. To do that, the evidence was moved to a larger warehouse where each piece can be safely accessed and analyzed. 

“We’re generally trying to narrow down on where these pieces came from so we can determine areas of interest in the building for the failure hypotheses,” David Goodwin, co-leader of evidence preservation for the investigation, said in a video statement. 

To maintain the chain of custody, NCST staff tracked each piece of evidence as it moved and sometimes accompanied the evidence between the two warehouses. 

It’s a lengthy process, but the team is working as fast they can without compromising the quality of the investigation, Goodwin said. “Our teams want to provide the families closure. We don’t want to miss something.”

The NIST team will provide an update on the previous phase of the investigation on June 15 from its Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters. 

Chava Gourarie can be reached at