President thanks emergency workers who rushed to help Berkeley victims
Published 29/10/2015 | 02:30
President Michael D Higgins has thanked emergency workers in California who tried to help the six young Irish students who died there last June.
As part of an eight-day official visit to the US west coast, Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina joined Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to plant a tree at the Martin Luther King Civic Centre.
Speaking at the event, Mr Higgins praised the "valiant efforts" of the emergency services personnel who were first to respond after the horrific balcony collapse.
"Some here were the first to respond to their calls, the first to reach their side in the awful aftermath of the balcony collapse," he said.
"It was for them to tend to the dying and the injured and to carry them to where they needed to be.
"As president and representative of the people of Ireland, I am truly honoured to stand among you today to pay tribute and give thanks for your extraordinary work and service.
"Sabina and I have wanted to undertake this journey ever since those darkest of days last June when we witnessed from afar your invaluable and un- wavering support for our young men and women, and for their families, in that time of such anguish and pain."
Mr Higgins said the tragedy had an enormous effect on the people of Ireland and on Berkeley residents.
"The loss of life and the serious injuries visited on young men and women at the cusp of their adult lives is a tragedy which has moved all of us very deeply," he said.
"We know that it has affected you also. You share this tragedy with us and we join you today in solidarity and thanks."
Students Ashley Donohoe, Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcán Miller and Eimear Walsh were all killed when an apartment balcony supported by dry-rotted wooden beams collapsed.