Pool Deck May Be the Origin of the Deadly Surfside Condo Collapse, Federal Investigators Say

A final report on the 2021 collapse is reportedly expected to be released by investigators in September 2025

 Joe Raedle/Getty Aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse
Joe Raedle/Getty Aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse

Federal investigators believe the 2021 condominium collapse that killed 98 people in Surfside, Fla., may have begun with the pool deck.

During a public update in Maryland on Thursday, investigators with the National Institute of Standards and Technology announced “strong evidence” that suggests the first major collapse at Champlain Towers South building occurred at the pool deck, according to the Miami Herald.

However, investigators have not ruled out that the “initiating event” may have happened elsewhere, including in the parking garage or the tower itself, NBC affiliate WTVJ reported.

“We want our investigation of this failure to have lasting impact,” said the NIST’s lead investigator, Judith Mitrani-Reiser, per the Herald. “We want it to save lives, and we want it to ensure this never happens again.”

Related: 911 Calls from Surfside Condo Residents Detail Aftermath of Collapse: 'We've Gotta Get Out'

Numerous videos of the collapse were shown for the first time at Thursday’s meeting, according to WTVJ. Investigators said portions of the building did not meet building code requirements when it collapsed.

"We've discovered several places where the building did not meet the requirements of the drawings, the building code or common practice," said Jim Harris, one of the team’s lead engineers.

The investigation led by NIST is looking into two dozen different scenarios that could explain why the 12-story building suddenly failed, federal officials said in September, per ABC affiliate WPLG.

Joe Raedle/Getty Aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse
Joe Raedle/Getty Aftermath of the Surfside condo collapse

Failures in slab-column connections in the pool deck are among the “most probable” initiation points, investigators said, per the Herald. Investigators believe the probability of underground factors, such as sinkholes, causing the collapse is “very low.”

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Investigators also said an explosion or explosive device did not appear to cause the building to collapse.

Nearly $30 million has been spent looking into the 2021 building collapse, they added.

A final report is expected to be released in September 2025.

Related: Devastating Photos of Thursday's Condo Collapse in Florida

Jean Wodnicki, president of the Champlain South Towers condo association, warned residents about the building's ongoing deterioration two months before the collapse.

Victims of the condo collapse reached a nearly $1 billion settlement in May 2022. At the time, attorneys for the victims acknowledged that "no amount of money will ever be enough to compensate" those directly impacted by the incident.

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