Saturday 17 March 2018

'I miss my friends so much' – Aoife

A still picture of Aoife Beary addressing legislators in California's State Assembly
A still picture of Aoife Beary addressing legislators in California's State Assembly
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Fighting back tears, Aoife Beary bravely spoke in memory of her friends who died on her birthday just over a year ago.

The Berkeley survivor told of the extensive and horrific injuries she sustained.

But her thoughts were for the six friends who died in the balcony tragedy on June 16, 2015 while celebrating her 21st birthday party in the California university town.

"Now my birthday will always be their anniversary," she said.

She spoke of the effect the tragedy has had on her and the families of the victims.

"I miss them so much," she said of the friends she lost, who had "grown up together".

Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Eoghan Culligan and Lorcán Miller and Ms Burke's cousin Irish-American Ashley Donohoe all died that fateful night.

Legislators in California are bringing in new rules to strengthen building regulations. But the new law was being opposed by the construction industry.

At a public hearing in the California State Assembly in Sacramento, Aoife said: "My life has changed forever, I cannot believe why you are even debating this bill. People died."

The Dubliner described the litany of injuries she suffered: a traumatic brain injury; open heart surgery; broken arms, hands, pelvis and jaw; losing her teeth; lacerations to her liver, kidneys and spleen; a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

Addressing the hearing on behalf of the victims' families, Aoife's mother Angela said their lives would never be the same again.

The construction industry representatives withdrew their opposition to the new law requiring them to report previous claims for building negligence.

Irish Independent

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