A desperate plea went out on Friday on behalf of families who weren't able to get on sold-out flights back to Ireland to bury their children following this week's deadly balcony collapse in Berkeley.
Six students, five of them Irish citizens visiting the Bay Area on J-1 work visas for the summer, were killed Tuesday morning when the balcony they were standing on at an apartment complex at 2020 Kittredge Street collapsed. Seven other students were sent to the hospital with serious injuries. Families hope to bury their children back in Ireland on Sunday or Monday, Oakland's Father Aidan McAleenan told various media outlets.
The Irish Immigration Pastoral Center, or IIPC, in San Francisco's Richmond district, is seeking volunteers willing to give up their seats on Saturday or Sunday for AerLingus flights from San Francisco International Airport back to Dublin.The flights are booked, and many Irish families were hoping to go back home this weekend. Anyone willing to do so should call 415-816-0887.
Meanwhile, fundraising efforts for the 13 families affected by the collapse reached nearly $250,000.
This week the American Ireland Fund announced a donation of $100,000 to The Irish Immigration Pastoral Center San Francisco, according to a release sent by the philanthropic organization's chairman and CEO. That's in addition to the "Irish J1 Berkeley Tragedy Fund” that by Friday morning had raised almost $140,000.