THE devastated father of Niccolai Schuster has delivered a powerful message to investigators of the balcony collapse in California, telling them to leave “no stone unturned”.
Speaking at the funeral Mass of his beloved son, he said: “We have lost our magical son and our best friend. Leave no stone unturned in this investigation. This cannot happen again.”
But he also urged other parents not to allow this tragedy to deter them from allowing their children to have their freedom.
“Nicc was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he stated simply.
Almost 1,000 mourners turned out for the funeral of the popular 21-year-old UCD Arts student at the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar.
Mourners were led by John and Graziella, Nicc’s parents, and his younger brother Alexei, as well as Nicc’s grandparents and extended family.
A guard of honour was formed by the students of St Mary’s College Rathmines, where Nicc had been a proud pupil and a sporting success.
Among those attending were representatives for the President and the Taoiseach, Health Minister Leo Varadkar, veteran broadcaster Micheal O Muircheartaigh and BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane – a cousin of John Schuster’s and former St Mary’s pupil.
Also in attendance were the family of fellow victim Eoghan Culligan, whose funeral the Schusters had attended the previous day.
Many in attendance were J1 students home from the States and also from Canada and Europe.
The chief celebrant Fr Richard Olins, of St Mary’s, remembered the
injured students watching the funeral Mass on webcam from their hospital beds in California and, in a special message, told them that they, too, were part of the companionship and were “enfolded in the warm embrace of love”.
Nicc’s brother Alexei broke down as he told mourners how he felt “split in two” by his brother’s death.
“Someone said to me what struck them about our family is that we are more than that. We’re four best friends that did everything together,” he said.
“Last night I couldn’t say it enough and I will never be able to, but Nicc I love you, I love you, I love you.
“Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling, I’m split in two. I’ve lost my twin,” he said, bringing tears to the eyes of many.