Saturday 10 December 2016

Bodies of Berkeley tragedy victims to be released to their families later this afternoon

Published 18/06/2015 | 11:58

The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke
The remnants of the Library Gardens apartment building balcony that collapsed. Inset: The six students who lost their lives in the tragic accident, top left to bottom right: Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke

THE bodies of the six students who died in the balcony collapse tragedy in Berkeley, California on Monday night are expected to be released to their families later this afternoon once all formalities are completed.

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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.

Irish-American Ashley Donohoe, 22, who died along with her cousin Olivia Burke, 21, from Dublin, in the accident, will be laid to rest on Saturday at Rhonart in her home county of Marin.

A service for Olivia will also be held prior to her body being brought home.

Irish Consul Philip Grant, who has been involved round the clock in the aftermath of the disaster since he was first informed about it around 2.0 am on Tuesday morning, said repatriation of the deceased is the immediate priority.

“The injured are not going to be moveable for some time, so now it’s about getting the children and their parents back to Ireland, and the saddest moment of all, which is bringing the bodies of those who unfortunately died in such tragic circumstances home as quick as we can.

“The community here in Berkeley have been fantastic as have the community in San Francisco so we’re deeply indebted for the support from all of them,” he said.

Yesterday afternoon a group of 33 relatives of the dead and injured arrived in San Francisco. Two more families are due in today, as is Jimmy Deenihan, the Minister for the Diaspora.

Minister Deenihan is representing the Taoiseach and the Government in his official role, but this is also an opportunity to personally express his sympathy as he knows a number of the families.

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