Sunday 25 September 2016

Berkeley tragedy survivors thank 'everyone across the world' for support during 'dark time'

Published 18/06/2015 | 18:59

Niall Murray
Niall Murray
The six victims of the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse
Olivia Burke - Age: 21 From: Foxrock, Co Dublin School: Loreto, Foxrock Studying: Business in IADT
Niccolai Schuster - Age: 21 From: Terenure, Dublin 6 School: St Mary’s College, Rathmines Studying: Arts in UCD
Lorcán Miller - Age: 21 From: Shankill, Co Dublin School: St Andrew’s College, Booterstown, Co Dublin Studying: Medicine in UCD
Eoghan Culligan - Age: 21 From: Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 School: St Mary’s College, Rathmines Studying: Logistics, DIT
Ashley Donohoe - Age: 22 From: Santa Rosa, California School: Rancho Cotate High School Studying: Biology in Sonoma State Univ.
Eimear Walsh - Age: 21 From: Foxrock, Co Dublin School: Loreto, Foxrock Studying: Medicine in UCD

Survivors of the Berkeley tragedy have posted 'thank you' messages online for the support they have received in the past three days.

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Niall Murray (21) and Sean Fahey (21) were both injured in the incident on Tuesday which left six of their close friends dead.

Clodagh Cogley
Clodagh Cogley
Jack Halpin
Hannah Waters
Aoife Beary
Niall Murray (Pic: Facebook)
Sean Fahey (Pic Facebook)
Conor Flynn

The duo were at a 21st birthday with friends when the balcony of the fourth-storey apartment collapsed, killing six young people and injuring seven.

Both Niall Murray and Sean Fahey described the last few days as a 'dark time'.

Injured Sean Fahey posted this image on his Facebook page, thanking people for their support
Injured Sean Fahey posted this image on his Facebook page, thanking people for their support

“Thanks everyone for the support in such a dark time,” Sean wrote on his Facebook page.

He also uploaded an image of street art which displayed the words “Berkeley six, rest in paradise”, in honour of his friends who died. 

Niall also posted a message to his Facebook page, thanking 'everyone across the world' for the support. He also paid tribute to his friends that were lost in the incident.

“Thank you to everyone across the world for all the support you have given us through this dark time. To Nick, Culli, Lorcan, Eimear, Olivia and Ashley, words can not describe how much we are going to miss you all. May you rest in peace forever xxx,” he said.

Irish Consul General Philip Grant has said that the Irish community in California has come together in "solidarity and support" following the balcony tragedy that occurred in Berkeley earlier this week.

Ashley Donohoe (22), Olivia Burke (21), Eoghan Culligan (21), Niccolai (Nick) Schuster (21),  Lorcan Miller (21) and  Eimear Walsh (21) were killed when the fourth-floor balcony of an apartment complex on Kittredge Street collapsed on Monday night.

Mr Grant said there was a “sense of shared grief, shared pain” in the Bay area where a vigil for the deceased was held last night.

Standing outside the apartment complex in Berkeley, he said that "there is no hierarchy here in terms of pain and suffering".

“An enormously moving vigil was organised by the J1 students last night. It's universal; these are all our families at the moment, these are all out children."

Read more: German football star Bastian Schweinsteiger pays tribute to tragic Berkeley victim

The bodies of the six students are expected to be released to their families once all formalities are completed.

American procedures for this process take more time and more formalities than in Ireland but the indications are that this stage is close to completion.

That will pave the way for the next phase of repatriating the remains to Ireland for funerals likely to take place next week.

Mr Grant said that his department are "working collectively to make sure that when we can, when we’re in a position to bring the families home, that this will be done as quickly as possible.”

He said authorities are working to make sure that the families have “everything that they need”.

Read more: J1 student tragedy: The injured

The Consul General reiterated his gratitude towards the "incredible" accident support services and the hospitals tasked with caring for the seven students who were seriously injured in the tragedy.

Niall, along with Jack Halpin (21), Hannah Waters (21), Aoife Beary (21), Clodagh Cogley (21), Sean Fahey (21) and Conor Flynn (22), were hospitalised following the incident.

"I can't express to people back home the support over here. They are at our side," Mr Grant told Six One news.

A special wing has been set up for the grieving J1 students in one of the hospitals, where they have a kitchen and a room to stay.

Mr Grant said the prognosis of the injured students may not be known for a number of weeks. “They’re fighters,” he said.

Meanwhile former President of Ireland Mary Robinson showed her solidarity with the victims and families of the Berkeley tragedy.

“My heart goes out to all the families of those killed, of those injured, of the young who are so traumatised. It is every parent’s worst nightmare. The whole of Ireland is grieving.

“It is very sad," she told RTE Radio One this morning.

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