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Former HPA Student Among Those Missing Following Miami Condo Collapse

By Max Dible
June 25, 2021, 2:47 PM HST
* Updated June 25, 2:54 PM
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Ilan Naibryf
Ilan Naibryf. PC: Twitter

A former Hawai´i Preparatory Academy (HPA) student is missing following the collapse of a South Florida condominium complex.

A large section of the 12-story building in Surfside, a community in the Miami Beach area, crumbled at approximately 1:30 am Eastern time Thursday, June 24. The precise cause remains unknown. As of Friday afternoon, at least four people were confirmed dead, 10 had been found injured and 159 individuals remained unaccounted for.

Among those missing is Ilan Naibryf, who boarded at HPA between 2016-18 before graduating and moving on to the University of Chicago. His Facebook account still lists his home as Waimea, Hawai´i Island.

Naibryf, an immigrant from Argentina whose family relocated to the Miami area when he was 2 years old, was staying at the complex with his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin in an apartment owned by her family. The two were in town for a funeral, according to a CNN interview with Naibryf’s parents conducted Friday.

Carlos Naibryf and Ronit Felszer, the missing man’s father and mother, confirmed to CNN that their son is among those who remain unaccounted for. They lamented a lack of information coming from authorities, as first responders continue to scour the wreckage for survivors.

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Some victims of the collapse have already been pulled from the debris. A report from the New York Times indicated that rescue teams tunneling underneath the rubble have heard banging sounds from below, though have not discerned human voices.

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“This is what you’ll typically hear when doing search and rescue,” Erika Benitez, a public information officer for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, told the Times. “People who are trapped, and they may be too tired to speak. Falling asleep could also be a coping mechanism.”

Naibryf’s family said they continue to be hopeful their son will be found alive, using “is” instead of “was” to describe Ilan.

“We have faith,” Felszer said. “But it’s difficult. It’s very difficult.”

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While attending high school at HPA, Naibryf was an accomplished student active in the school’s STEM program. He was also a multi-sport athlete, running cross-country and track, as well as playing center midfielder for the soccer team before graduating in 2018. Naibryf’s 22nd birthday is this September and he will graduate from the University of Chicago with a degree in Physics next May.

Naibryf was an HPA classmate of Malcolm Davis, who went missing in June of 2020 while freediving in waters off Mahukona State Park in North Kohala. Davis was never found.

This story will be updated as new details emerge.

Max Dible
Max Dible is the News Director for both Big Island Now and Kauai Now. He also serves as News Director for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations.
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