Friday 23 March 2018

Famous activist Erin Brockovich says it's her 'duty' to help Berkeley families

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich Credit: Lisa Maree Williams (Getty Images)
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich Credit: Lisa Maree Williams (Getty Images)

David Kearns

Famous activist Erin Brockovich has offered to help the families of the students killed in Berkeley, saying she felt it was her "duty to come forward and offer these families assistance”.

The environmental lawyer, who was famously played by Julia Roberts in an Oscar winning film about her work, said she had partnered with a Dublin-based solicitors to help “uncover the truth about what happened” in Berkeley, where five Irish students were killed when a balcony collapsed.

“The waking nightmare that these families have been living for the past week is hard to imagine, and no words from me or anybody else can ease their pain,” she said in a lengthy Facebook post.

“However, as a lifelong activist, I feel it is my duty to come forward and offer these families my assistance.

“The company behind the construction of the Berkeley apartment block should take action to ensure that the families of those involved in the balcony collapse disaster are not left with enormous medical bills as a result of the faulty construction.

I urge immediate action on the costs for Berkeley families! The company behind the construction of the Berkeley...

Posted by Erin Brockovich on Tuesday, 23 June 2015

“Some of those injured would require extensive care before being able to return home and that it was essential that families did not face what she described as the ‘additional nightmare of mounting medical bills,” Ms Brokovich wrote.

“I am available to meet with and assist the families, and to advocate for them to find a non-litigious solution in the coming weeks.”

Her offer of support comes after a preliminary report into the balcony collapse concluded that the wooden beams of the balcony had been badly rotted by water damage.

The six victims of the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse
The six victims of the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse

The environmental activist will be working with Dublin law firm Phelim O’Neill solicitors to facilitate families who require any support or assistance.

“I am available to meet with the families at their discretion as they begin their search for answers, explanations, and justice.

“Once again, I offer my deepest sympathies to them, and to the people of Ireland,” she added.

Ms Brockovich was speaking ahead of the funerals of Irish students Olivia Burke and Niccolai Schuster in Dublin.

Erin Brockovich
Erin Brockovich

The pair were among six young students killed in California last Monday.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar to say goodbye to Niccolai Schuster, and speaking at his son's funeral, John Schuster urged parents to not hold their children back after Berkeley, saying "Let your kids go, do not let this deter you."

Mr Schuster said Nicc had had plans to spend six months in South America and said that if he had survived the accident, he would have continued with his travel plans "on one leg".

Nicc's parents John and Graziella Schuster, along with his younger brother Alexei, made a short, emotional address at the funeral mass, remembering their son as "magical".

Olivia Burke's funeral was held at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, in the parish of Foxrock.

Berkeley Tragedy Victims' Fund

The Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre in San Francisco has set up an online account to raise funds for the students affected by this tragedy and to assist the immediate needs of their families.

Click here to make a donation to the fund

Her parents Paula, Paul and her brother Gavin were joined by friends and family as they said their final farewell.

Singer Hozier sang a slow version of Work Song before her coffin was taken from the church.

Olivia Burke's remains were brought home to Ireland on Monday, following a joint funeral with her cousin Ashley Donohoe , who also died in the tragedy, in the US on Saturday.

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