Saturday 3 December 2016

Berkeley tragedy: Injured student to return home today 'in solidarity' as funerals begin

Liam Kelly and Sam Griffin

Published 23/06/2015 | 02:30

Niccolai Schuster (right)
Niccolai Schuster (right)
Olivia Burke
Eimear Walsh
Lorcán Miller
Ashley Donohoe
Eoghan Culligan
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates (L) hugs Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, following a wreath-laying ceremony at the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley
The remains of the damaged balcony are removed from the 4th-story apartment building in Berkeley. Photo: Reuters
Workmen examine the damage at the scene of the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California
Injured student Jack Halpin
Police hold up sheets as medical staff take away the bodies of the dead students at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley.
Stunned onlookers at the scene of the tragedy
Visitors lay flowers on a makeshift memorial near the scene of a 4th-story apartment building balcony collapse in Berkeley, California
Conor Flynn
Jack Halpin (left)
Hannah Waters (right) was also injured
Niall Murray

ONE of the young men injured when a balcony collapsed in California last week - killing six students - has been released from hospital, and is expected to travel home later today.

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Sean Fahey, from Rathmines in Dublin, will travel home with family. He had been in hospital since the balcony collapsed last Monday night.

Mourners cry as the caskets of cousins Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, are placed in hearses following services at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, California on Saturday (AP Photo/Michael Short)
Mourners cry as the caskets of cousins Olivia Burke, 21, and Ashley Donohoe, 22, are placed in hearses following services at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cotati, California on Saturday (AP Photo/Michael Short)
The Burke family (from right), father Paul, mother Paula and brother Gavin at the funeral service at the weekend for cousins Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe
A hearse containing the remains of Olivia Burke is escorted by police as it makes it way to San Francisco International Airport (on Interstate 280). (Photo: Martin Lacey)

A tweet from the Irish Consulate for Western USA said Mr Fahey would travel, "In solidarity to be near his friends and their families in the difficult days ahead".

It is understood that he was released late on Sunday, and has been staying with family in the Bay Area.

The six other Irish students who remain in hospitals near Berkeley are making good progress - however, they are not expected to travel home for some time yet.

The last of the students who lost their lives arrived back to Ireland yesterday. Olivia Burke was accompanied by a dozen family members on the long journey across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean.

The five Irish students who were tragically killed will be laid to rest over the coming days - following the funeral of Ashley Donohoe in the US at the weekend.

Eimear Walsh and Eoghan Culligan will be remembered at funeral Masses this morning and they will be buried by their heartbroken families and friends shortly afterwards.

Eimear's funeral Mass will be held at 11am at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Foxrock, where parish priest Fr Frank Herron remembered her as playing an active role in the local community.

The UCD medicine student will then be accompanied on her final journey to Shanganagh Cemetery by her heartbroken parents Jim and Patricia, her brother Robert, extended family and friends.

The 21-year-old reposed in Fanagans Funeral Home in Dundrum yesterday afternoon for a number of hours before spending her final night at home.

Eoghan Culligan's parents Marie and Gerry will say their final goodbye to their youngest son in the Church of the Annunciation in Rathfarnham after 11am Mass today. The DIT student, who was extremely close to his older brothers Andrew and Stephen, will be buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery shortly afterwards.

His "loving girlfriend" Sarah is also expected to attend.

The 21-year-old's family have requested for family flowers only at the funeral and have asked instead that donations be made to the Fr Peter McVerry Trust or the Nepal Disaster Fund if desired.

Niccolai Schuster, the "darling boy" of John and Graziella, will be laid to rest tomorrow after an 11am funeral Mass in the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar.

The UCD student, who was very close to his brother Alexei, will then be brought to the crematorium at Mount Jerome in Harold's Cross.

Olivia Burke, who attended Loreto College in Foxrock with Eimear Walsh and Aoife Beary, who remains injured in hospital, will be buried after an 11am funeral Mass tomorrow morning.

The IADT student was remembered at a service in San Francisco honouring her and her cousin Ashley Donohoe, who died alongside her after the balcony collapse in the early hours of last Tuesday morning.

The 21-year-old will then be brought to the cemetery in Deansgrange, led by her parents Paul and Paula and brother Gavin, where she will be laid to rest.

Olivia arrived home from San Francisco yesterday morning and reposed at a funeral home in the city centre for a number of hours. It is understood that the parents of her Irish-American cousin Ashley will attend her funeral ceremony on Wednesday.

Lorcán Miller, who was in the same class as his friend Eimear Walsh in UCD, will be buried on Thursday morning after an 11am funeral Mass in the Rathmichael Parish Church in Shankill.

He was the eldest of Ken and Sinéad Miller's four children, and was "adored" by his siblings Jamie, Lucy and Poppy.

His family have also requested family flowers only for the funeral with donations instead being made to the Irish Cancer Society.

It is understood that a government minister will attend each funeral.

The six who remain in hospital, all aged 21 and from Dublin, are Jack Halpin, Conor Flynn, Niall Murray, Clodagh Cogley, Aoife Beary and Hannah Waters.

Health bulletins can only be released with the consent of the families, and they prefer to keep them private. American law prohibits any medical facility from giving information about patients.

Medical procedures are being carefully followed, particularly in relation to when a recovered person is fit to fly. The doctors have to be satisfied in that respect so no early return home is on the cards for the injured.

It is understood that Conor Flynn is expected to require extensive physiotherapy but is expected to make a full recovery.

Doctors are also believed to be happy with the recovery being made by NUIG student Niall Murray.

Jack Halpin is making progress, though it has been slower than hoped. He is being treated for back injuries and two broken legs and is understood to be in a fair condition in John Muir Hospital.

Clodagh Cogley suffered extensive injuries to her legs and spine. Aoife Beary has undergone extensive surgery and is not expected to be able to return to Ireland for some time.

Hannah Waters remains in Highland Hospital with Aoife.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Consul General in San Francisco, Philip Grant, has been praised for his compassionate response to the balcony collapse tragedy that claimed the lives of six students.

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said Mr Grant deserves credit for his hard work.

"The Consul General, Philip Grant, and the entire team in San Francisco have done a great job in very difficult circumstances.

"Last week we saw the Irish diplomatic service at its very best, standing with our citizens at a time of heartbreak and tragedy."

Foreign Affairs staff worked around the clock to help the families and loved ones of the victims of the disaster.

Irish Independent

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