One birthday wish…
Tuesday, June 16 a birthday party was taking place in the Library Gardens Apartment complex. Just before 1am a group of young adults were standing on the balcony attached to the building. The balcony gave way under their feet and separated from the wall. They were four floors up and the fall was fatal. Six individuals, all in their early twenties, died in the accident and more than seven others were hospitalized with series injuries. Investigations into the accident are currently underway.
Five of the six individuals were Irish and working in the United States on short term work visas as a part of a work exchange programme. The sixth individual had dual Irish/U.S. nationality.
University College Dublin, the school to some of those who passed, opened up an online condolence board for those wishing to pay their respects. The university president, Andrew Deeks wrote:
“On behalf of the entire University community, I wish to extend our condolences to the families and friends of those who died and to those who were injured. We cannot comprehend the desperate shock and grief they are feeling and we are heartbroken at their suffering and loss. Our students, like thousands of others across Ireland, head to the U.S. each summer on J1 visas to enjoy the experience. It is heartbreaking to imagine that such a tragedy would strike these wonderful students when their lives are opening up to discover the world.”
A couple of those killed were also alumni from St. Mary’s college. The school’s homepage read:
“The thoughts and prayers of everybody in the St. Mary’s Community are with the families of Niccolai and Eoghan, and the other Irish youngsters who died or were injured in the heartbreaking accident in the United States yesterday. We also pray particularly for those being treated in hospital, and their families, many of whom are traveling today to the U.S.”
Today, the families of the Irish students are arriving in California to pick up the remains of their loved ones. Mayor of Berkeley, Tom Bates, says this is a “shocking set of events” and that “we’re all sort of awestruck by the incredible tragedy”.
Since the incident took place, Ireland planned to fly flags at half-staff and to hold a minute of silence in the Parliament. They’ve also had an emergency phone line open for those in need of counselling. The volume of calls pouring in speaks to how paramount this tragedy was. Charlie Flanagan, Irish Foreign Minister, says that “this is an incident that has touched many Irish families — not just those whose sons and daughters were actually there, but all families who have a loved one traveling this summer.”
Ashley Donohoe (22), Olivia Burke (21, Donohoe’s cousin), Eoghan Culligan (21), Niccolai Schuster (21), Lorcan Miller (21), Eimear Walsh (21).