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11th Aug 2016

Berkeley Survivor Aoife Beary Relates Heartbreak Of The Accident That Claimed The Lives Of Her Best Friends

Cassie Delaney

“I miss my friends so much. I have known them since we started school together at four years of age,” Aoife Beary told a US state committee hearing yesterday.

“We had grown up together. And now my birthday will always be their anniversary.”

According to The Times, Aoife returned to the US to appear in front of the State Capitol Assembly Appropriations Committee. The meeting was established as part of a process to adopt new laws that would require building contractors who had poor safety records to be more forthcoming with the information.

“My friends and I were so looking forward to our summer in Berkeley. We had already travelled a lot and spent our summers together in Vancouver, Thailand and Vietnam since we had started college. I could never have imagined how it could have ended,” Aoife told the committee.

Aoife suffered grave injuries in the fall. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and was required to undergo open heart surgery. As a result, the young woman was unable to return to college. She told the hearing that she had suffered broken arms, broken hands, pelvis and jaw. She also lost teeth and had lacerations to her liver, kidney and spleen, a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

“My life has changed forever. I cannot believe why you are even debating this Bill. People died,” she said to the committee and revealed that the accident had cost her independence, goals and freedom.

The tragedy last year claimed the lives of six students.

A balcony, attached to an apartment on Kittredge St, where the students were celebrating Aoife’s 21st birthday, collapsed with thirteen young people believed to have fallen.

Five were pronounced dead at the scene, with news later confirming that a sixth student died.

The six students were Ashley Donohoe 22, Olivia Burke, 21, Eimear Walsh, 21, Eoghan Culligan, 21, Niccolai Schuster, 21 and Lorcan Miller, 21.

It was reported after the incident that the City of Berkeley inspectors found that the balcony collapsed because of severe dry rot following water damage.

A criminal investigation has alleged that the defendants “cut corners” and ignored signs of the dry rot, which had been reported as far back as 2008.

A petition to prevent balcony collapses has been established by the mother of one of the victims. Jackie Donohoe writes:

“My life was changed forever a year ago when I lost my daughter, Ashley and my niece Olivia when a balcony they were standing on collapsed in Berkeley, California and they and four other students fell to their deaths. If you or a loved one rent an apartment with a balcony or have ever been on vacation and stepped out on a balcony to admire the view – you, too, may be in danger as you have no idea if/when that balcony has been properly inspected.”

Sign the petition HERE.