HONOLULU (KHON2) — One of the deadliest building failures in U.S. history happened on June 24, 2021, when the 12-story Champlain Towers condo building collapsed in Surfside, Florida, killing 98 people. One year later, a judge gave his final approval to a settlement topping $1 billion for victims of the collapse.

Hawaii Prep Academy graduate Ilan Naibryf was one of those victims. He died at the age of 21 and was set to graduate from the University of Chicago this year.

Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8

Naibryf was believed to be on the eighth floor of the building with his girlfriend Deborah — they were staying for one night so they could attend a funeral. Naibryf’s father went to the site shortly after the collapse to see the building totally destroyed.

“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,” he told KHON2. Click here to watch his interview.

Champlain Towers South had a long history of maintenance problems, and questions have been raised about the quality of its original construction and inspections in the early 1980s, the Associated Press reported. Sea level rise and damage caused by salt water may also have been factors. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading the federal probe in to the collapse, however, a final conclusion is likely years away.

After graduating from Hawaii Prep Academy in 2018, Naibryf moved to the Windy City to study molecular engineering. Friends and family said he was “too smart for his own good,” as he was constantly coming up with new ideas. Naibryf’s classmates remembered him in an obituary posted here.

After the incident, the 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.”


The settlement sets up a $1.02 billion fund for those who lost family members in the collapse, as well as those who suffered physical or mental injuries. Another $200 million is available from the Champlain Towers condo association itself, including insurance, according to attorneys. The fund is also divided into legal fees and for owners who lost one of the 136 units in the building.

The process to determine the value of claims for the 98 deaths and any injuries will end by Aug. 26, and each person who filed a claim by July 18 has a right to a private hearing before a judge.

According to the Associated Press, a billionaire developer from Dubai is set to purchase the beachside site for $120 million, contributing to the settlement. That transaction is expected to close by the end of July.

Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page

In response to the disaster, Florida will require statewide recertification of condos more than three stories tall under new legislation that was signed into law last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.