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Berkeley balcony tragedy: Aoife wakes from three-week coma


Aoife Beary

Aoife Beary

Aoife Beary

ONE of the survivors of the Berkeley balcony collapse has begun to communicate with her parents, more than three weeks after the tragedy in which six students died.

Aoife Beary was celebrating her 21st birthday party at her apartment complex in Berkeley, California, when the balcony gave way.

Six students plunged to their deaths from the fifth storey of the complex outside San Francisco.

Aoife suffered a serious head injury and has been in a coma.

Friends have revealed that she has now been removed from the critical list and has started to communicate with her parents and medical team in hospital in Stanford.

The student, from Blackrock, Co Dublin, had successful heart surgery 10 days after the incident and is continuing to make progress, her family said.

“Aoife is still in the ICU but is no longer on the critical list,” they wrote in a statement posted online last night.

“She has slowly started to awaken from the induced coma – this process is expected to take some time.

“Aoife has also started some communication with her

parents and the medical team. She has had a tracheotomy within the last week and continues to make progress on her long road to recovery.”

It is expected that Aoife’s parents Mike and Angela will remain at her bedside for the foreseeable future, and the family are currently making arrangements for her sister Anna and brother Tim to travel to Stanford to join them.

The five Irish students who died were all from south Dublin – medical students and friends Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh; Olivia Burke, who went to school with Eimear; Niccolai Schuster, who was at the same college as Lorcan and Eimear, and his friend from school Eoghan Culligan.

Irish-American Ashley Donohoe, who lived in California and was a cousin of Olivia’s, also died.

The students were on J1 working visas for the summer and were among 40 people attending the birthday party.

New safety rules for buildings in the university city were drawn up after investigations found severe dry rot in the balcony that collapsed.

Officials said exterior wooden beams on the apartment had been extensively weather-

damaged, and emergency orders had been set out to enhance the safety of all new and existing buildings in the city.

The Rathmines Omniplex cinema will host a fundraising screening next week of new Disney film Inside Out in aid of another survivor, Jack Halpin, who worked there.

It will show the movie on Wednesday at 6.30pm to raise money for his medical treatment in the US.