Linda March was tired of New York’s Upper West Side. She had survived a bout of COVID-19 there in 2020 and was worried that crime was getting worse in her neighborhood.
So in March she did what New Yorkers often do: She moved to South Florida.
March, 58, who rented the penthouse at Champlain Towers and is among the 159 residents missing after the condo’s South Tower collapsed on Thursday in Surfside, had lived in the Miami area before and couldn’t wait to return, said her best friend Rochelle Laufer.
“She sent me pictures of the apartment. The place was beautiful, oceanfront, with beautiful views,” said Laufer, who grew up with March in Brooklyn and has known her since second grade. “The one thing she complained about was the construction. It started at 8 in the morning and kept going all day.”
Still, living on the beach made March, an attorney with clients in New York and Miami, happy.
“She loved the outdoors,” Laufer said. “When she was in New York, she was in a small apartment. In Miami she had a pink bicycle, and she’d ride all around. She loved walking on the beach. She was very into exercise and working out in the sunshine. She felt life would be better in Florida. It was a fresh start.”
March was planning to buy a condo but decided to rent for a year first. When another friend recommended Champlain Towers and said there was a unit open, she jumped at the opportunity.
“She loved going out to dinner and socializing,” said Laufer, who added that March had lost her own sister to cancer around eight years ago and that both of her parents had passed away. “She was very bright and always smiling. She was sunshine-y. You’d see her and smile and laugh together. She was very extroverted, always talking to people. She had things to be sad about, but she was happy . . . She’s like a sister to me.”