There’s one image that will never leave Andrea Langesfeld’s mind: her daughter Nicole “Nicky” Langesfeld, 26, taking her little brother’s hand on his first day of kindergarten, so that he wasn’t alone.
“She went for him, being like, ‘I’m here, don’t worry,’ ” she said, marveling over the early example of Nicky’s desire to make sure everyone around her was happy.
Nicky later brought that impulse to her relationship with Luis Sadovnic, 28, whom she had been with for more than seven years and had recently married.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the couple had a small ceremony on Jan. 26. In February, Nicky moved into the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside with Luis. The two died together when the condo collapsed on June 24. Luis’ remains were identified on July 7 and Nicky’s on July 10.
Nicky, whose parents are from Argentina, was born and raised in Miami. She went to the University of Florida, where she met Sadovnic, a classmate from Caracas, Venezuela. They both graduated in 2016.
Nicky and Luis continued their education in South Florida — Luis as an MBA student at Nova Southeastern University and Nicky at the University of Miami School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude. She got a job as a commercial litigator at Reed Smith law firm in Miami, where she focused on “litigating, evaluating and settling insurance coverage, bad faith, and unfair insurance practice disputes on behalf of policyholders,” according to the firm’s website.
“She wanted justice even when she was five,” her father Pablo Langesfeld said, explaining how Nicky always knew she wanted to be a lawyer.
Nicky’s family described her as a hard-working, high achiever who put family first, was passionate about fitness and loved animals.
“She was happiness, a light everywhere she goes,” Andrea Langesfeld said. “She was smart and so successful. Everything she did, she did it perfectly.”
“She loved animals. There was no animal that she didn’t have. Anything that had four legs, she had it,” Pablo Langesfeld said, listing pets including dogs, cats, guinea pigs and hamsters.
“She wanted the whole circus,” her mother Andrea Langesfeld said. Nicky currently had a guinea pig, Kali, and two dogs, Capo and Zoe.
Andrea Langesfeld described cherished memories of family travel that included an annual trip to Buenos Aires to see family, such beach destinations as Cancun and Punta Cana, as well as long road trips to California and North Carolina when Nicky and her younger brother Martin were children.
Martin said he deeply admired Nicky while growing up and “learned everything from her.” As they got older, Nicky became his go-to source for advice.
“Whenever I had any problems, she’d always be the first person I would call,” he said. “She always had the right answer even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. She was straightforward.”
Luis Sadovnic grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, where he attended Colegio Moral y Luces Herzl-Bialik, a private Jewish high school, with two other Surfside victims, Moises Rodan and Andres Levine. He was a talented athlete and a member of the Venezuelan national soccer team in the U17 category. He was also an avid golfer.
At UF, Luis was involved with the Jewish Center. He attended religious services on high holidays and was a part of a large, loving group of friends, his rabbi said.
“He was very involved with the South American friend group. They were really one family,” Rabbi Berl Goldman said of Luis’ friends at UF. “It was almost envious, in a positive way, how close the friendship was between them.”
“He was so quiet and relaxed… if Nicky was uncomplicated, Luis was even less complicated,” Andrea Langesfeld said of their easy-going relationship. “He was my son, too. I loved both of them.”
The Langesfeld family is fighting and advocating for the Champlain Towers site to be turned into a memorial.
“We think there should be a memorial there, out of respect,” Martin Langesfeld said.
He said the loss of his sister feels insurmountable. “I’m only realizing now just how much she was the glue of our family,” he said.
Andrea said she has lost not only her daughter but her walking buddy, her shopping buddy and her lunch date.
“We did everything together. She was my best friend,” she said. “I am so, so proud to be her mom.”