HONOLULU (KHON2) — University of Chicago student Ilan Naibryf, who has been missing since the June 24 collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Florida, has been confirmed to be among the dozens of people who were killed.
The death toll rose to 79 on Friday, July 9, as recovery workers toiled for a 16th day to find victims in the rubble. Another 61 people remain unaccounted for.
The Hawaii Prep Academy graduate was believed to be on the eighth floor of the building with his girlfriend where they were staying for one night so they could attend a funeral.
Ilan’s parents, Carlos and Ronit, said Ilan was staying with them in Florida for the summer, about 30 minutes away from Surfside.
Ilan’s girlfriend, Deborah, had been with Ilan and his parents in Florida but had to fly back to New York on Monday, June 21. Once she arrived, she got word that her friend’s father had passed away from COVID-19. Deborah flew back to Florida on Wednesday, June 23.
“Ilan picked her up Wednesday at 1 p.m.,” explained his mother Ronit Felszer. “My son asked me, ‘Should I come home? Should I stay here [Surfside]?’ I said wherever the funeral and burial is closer to, so he decided to stay at the apartment, and that’s the last we really know.”
On June 27, families of the missing were offered to visit the scene. Ilan’s father, Carlos Naibryf, had already gone to the site after the collapse. He didn’t think his wife and daughters should go, but Felszer said she felt like she had to.
“And they realize now what I already knew, the building was totally destroyed,” said Naibryf. “It’s heart wrenching, it’s heart wrenching,” Felszer added.
“When you have a volcano eruption, you know it’s nature, and this is a human failure, so we are really upset about it because it could have been prevented,” Naibryf said.
Felszer, who is also an HPA alum, said messages of support from Hawaii have been a helpful distraction.
In late June, KHON2 spoke to some of Ilan’s closest friends. His parents saw the story from 4,500 miles away.
“It’s amazing you guys were able to put together the best of him,” Ilan’s father said.
“I’m just learning things about my son in Hawaii and in Chicago and everywhere he was,” he continued.
University of Chicago also wrote on their website:
“Ilan was a scholar, entrepreneur and admired campus leader. The second person in his family to attend the College, he was a physics major with a minor in molecular engineering and was active within the campus community. He also was co-founder and CEO of STIX Financial, a 2021 College New Venture Challenge finalist, served as president of the Chabad House student board, was a former member of the men’s track and field team, and was active in recreational soccer. He will be greatly missed.”University of Chicago