Monday 23 October 2017

Victims' families praise 'faultless' action of fellow J1 students

Mourners at the funeral service at the weekend for cousins Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cotati, California
Mourners at the funeral service at the weekend for cousins Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cotati, California
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

The families of the victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse have praised the "manner and speed" with which fellow J1 students acted on the fateful night.

A statement issued by the Irish Consulate in San Francisco on behalf of the families of Eoghan Culligan, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai Schuster and Eimear Walsh, described the actions of the students as "faultless".

"We cannot thank enough the students that were in the apartment and apartment complex that night," the statement read.

"The manner and speed at which they reached out to our families, to our consul, and to each other was faultless."

The families described their children as "extraordinarily blessed in their friends", before adding: "We are enormously proud of them."

The poignant statement thanked the Irish and American public for the outpouring of sympathy and support shown.

"We would like to thank everyone in America and Ireland for their sympathy and support, which has been a tremendous comfort to us at this tragic time.

"The sympathy and responses of friends of our sons and daughters, the wider group of students on J1 visas and the programme's sponsoring agencies . . . is a testament to their popularity," the statement read.

The families expressed their gratitude to the local authorities, emergency services, parishes and communities of Berkeley.

The statement praised the Department of Foreign Affairs, Diaspora Minister Jimmy Deenihan, the Irish Consul, Philip Grant, US Ambassador Anne Anderson and the services provided by Aer Lingus.

The families are now asking for privacy so they may "mourn the sudden and tragic passing of our beloved sons and daughters, with the dignity that they deserve."

The families of cousins Ashley Donohoe and Olivia Burke also issued a statement following their joint funeral service on Saturday.

"The family wants everyone to know and understand that Ashley and Olivia were two intelligent, talented and hard-working young women.

"They had bright futures ahead of them," the statement read.

"We will fight to make changes so that no family will ever have to go through what we've been through for the past five days, which has changed our lives forever."

Irish Independent

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