Former Montrealer among deceased in Florida condo collapse; three Canadians missing

The first Canadian victim identified in the collapse of a South Florida condominium is a former Montrealer.

Ingrid "Itty" Ainsworth, 66, died in the collapse in late June along with her husband Tzvi, 68.

Their identities were made public earlier this week by Miami-Dade police after their bodies were recovered on Monday, 11 days after the building collapsed.

Hundreds showed up to pay their respects at Chabad-Lubovitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn on Tuesday before they were laid to rest.

Itty Ainsworth, née Fellig, was from Montreal and met Tzvi, who was from Australia.

The Chabad press office said in a statement the couple briefly lived in Canada after their marriage.

"The Fellig family is one of the influential Chabad families in Montreal," the press office wrote. "After their marriage, Itty (her Jewish name and how she was universally known) and Tzvi lived in Montreal, before decamping for Australia."

The Associated Press reported the couple lived in Australia for nearly two decades before returning to South Florida to be near their children. In recent years, her family largely relocated to Florida, but there was still extended family in Montreal.

The couple, who had seven children, was celebrating the birth of two grandchildren. Their son in South Africa recently had a baby and their son in Florida had a baby just days ago, their niece Chana Harrel told The Associated Press on Saturday.

A daughter lived just blocks away, she said.

"Every person she encountered, ever in her life, became her friend. Everyone was treated as equals," Chana Wasserman wrote in a Mother's Day blog post to her mother, Itty, last year. "The guy at the laundromat, the guy working at the fruit market … "

Ingrid struggled with chronic pain but didn't let that darken her mood. She tried to focus on the positive, a sunny day, a long car ride that would seem tedious to many she reframed as a chance to talk and catch up, her daughter wrote.

"I know I will never be able to match my mother's pure enthusiasm for life but it's inspiring to watch," Wasserman wrote.

Itty's mother, a Holocaust survivor living in Miami Beach, is battling cancer and doesn't know about the tragedy.

"They didn't tell her. She's not well," Harrel said. "It's absolutely horrific."

Rabbi Aryeh Citron, who heads the congregation the Ainsworths attended in Surfside, told Miami's NBC affiliate Tzvi only ever missed a service to take care of his wife.

"Tzvi was a very easygoing fellow, very nice to talk to. Great sense of humour, very chatty," Citron said. "Just had a lot to say about his life and the places he's been and jobs that he's done and talking about his kids; just a great all-around guy."

On Wednesday, emergency workers gave up any hope of finding survivors in the rubble, shifting their efforts to recovering remains after authorities concluded that there was "no chance of life."

No one has been pulled out alive since the first hours after the 12-story Champlain Towers South building fell on June 24.

Global Affairs Canada has said three different Canadian families have been affected by the tragedy and three Canadians remain unaccounted for.

A spokesman said Tuesday that Canadian consular officials based in Miami are providing direct support to the family of the deceased and to the families of those who are still missing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2021.

-- with files from The Associated Press and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.

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