Balcony Collapse Victims Remembered One Year Later

One year after six students were killed in a balcony collapse at a Berkeley apartment complex, family and friends gathered for a Mass at the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center on Wednesday to celebrate the lives of the victims.

The Rev. Brendan McBride recited the names of five students from Ireland and one from Rohnert Park, all of whom were killed when a fourth-floor balcony at the Library Gardens Apartments on Kittredge Street collapsed during a birthday party on June 16, 2015.

"The first anniversary is difficult if you lose a parent," McBride said. "When someone loses a child, it’s triple the pain."

The six students who died in the collapse were Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh, all 21 and from Ireland; and Ashley Donohoe, a 22-year-old Irish American from Rohnert Park.

McBride hopes coming together will help ease the pain for six familes and countless friends.

"The impact of six people, six friends," he said. "It's impacted me very much - and everybody."

A year after the collapse, Berkeley has implemented new balcony construction and inspection rules. City leaders say more than 400 balconies are being repaired or will be repaired as a result of the new rules.

Investigators found that wooden beams anchoring the balcony to the building sustained dry-rot as a result of moisture seeping under the balcony's concrete floor and into the beams. Five companies involved in the construction of the Library Gardens apartment building were cited by a state licensing board in April for performing inferior work that led to the collapse.

Lawmakers are focusing on making sure the tragedy isn't repeated while mourners make sure the victims are remembered.

"It's heartbreaking," said Deirdre McLowghlin of Berkeley. "It would be nice if there was a permanent memorial here. These kids deserve to not be forgotten."

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