Tuesday 16 July 2019

Victim's mother pays moving tribute on anniversary of Berkeley balcony tragedy

The balcony after the tragic incident that killed six. Photo: REUTERS
The balcony after the tragic incident that killed six. Photo: REUTERS

Sarah Slater

A mother who lost her daughter and niece in the Berkeley balcony collapse has paid a touching tribute to them four years on from the tragedy.

Ashley Donohoe and her cousin Olivia Burke died when a fourth-floor balcony of a rented apartment in California collapsed in the early hours of June 16, 2015.

The accident also claimed the lives of Eimear Walsh, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan as they attended a 21st birthday party held for close friend Aoife Beary, who was seriously injured in the fall.

Ashley's mother, Jackie Cronin Donohoe, posted a touching photograph of her daughter and niece along with another daughter, Amanda, and their friend Eimear Walsh on her Facebook page.

She said: "The best things to hold onto in life are each other."

Ms Cronin Donohoe successfully petitioned US lawmakers to introduce changes to balcony construction following the incident. She said at the time: "My life was changed forever a year ago when I lost my daughter Ashley and my niece Olivia when a balcony they were standing on collapsed in Berkeley, California, and they and four other students fell to their deaths.

Sadly missed: Cousins Ashley Donohoe and Olivia Burke, who died in the balcony collapse in
Berkeley, California, in June 2015
Sadly missed: Cousins Ashley Donohoe and Olivia Burke, who died in the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California, in June 2015

"If you or a loved one rent an apartment with a balcony or have ever been on vacation and stepped out on a balcony to admire the view, you too may be in danger as you have no idea if or when that balcony has been properly inspected."

A plaque was unveiled in Berkeley last year to commemorate the victims of the tragedy and lists their names.

Ms Beary told a public hearing into the horrific balcony collapse in 2016 that her birthday will forever mark the anniversary of the deaths of her friends.

Irish Independent

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