Wednesday 7 December 2016

Berkeley survivor Niall Murray tells of survivor's guilt during first public appearance since tragedy

Published 11/09/2015 | 20:47

Niall Murray Pic: @BobNBC/Twitter
Niall Murray Pic: @BobNBC/Twitter

An Irish college student injured in a balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, has said that he felt guilty he lived when six other young people died.

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Niall Murray, who appeared in a wheelchair with bandages on his arms and a boot on his left foot, choked up when he talked about going home soon and seeing the families of those who died.

"I remember the night, the only thing I don't remember is how I hit the ground," Mr Murray said at a news conference. He also thanked nurses, doctors and diplomatic officials for their help.

Six students were killed and seven others were injured after the balcony snapped off an apartment building during a June 16 birthday party. The people fell five storeys to the street.

Five of the dead were Irish students working in the San Francisco Bay Area for the summer, and the sixth was an Irish-American from California.

Prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the collapse but have not named a possible target. They say they would have to show criminal negligence was involved in order to file charges and gain convictions.

Lawyers say it is difficult to win convictions against property owners, contractors and others involving allegations of construction failures. The last known criminal prosecution of a balcony collapse in California occurred in San Francisco almost 20 years ago.

Six students, Eimear Walsh, Ashley Donohue, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eoghan Culligan all died when the balcony they were standing on gave way beneath them.

Aoife Beary (21), Niall Murray (21), Clodagh Cogley and Hannah Waters (21) were among those injured in the tragedy.

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