Wednesday 13 December 2017

Berkeley tragedy victims: 'Great, young kids... full of energy'

The six victims of the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse
The six victims of the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

The victims of Tuesday's fatal accident at an apartment block in Berkeley, California have been described as 'great, young kids, very enthusiastic and full of energy'.

The deceased include five Irish students Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcan Miller and Irish-American citizen Ashley Donohue, who lived in California and was a cousin of Olivia Burke.

Eimear Walsh (21)

Eimear was studying medicine in UCD. In America, she was working at sushi restaurant Hana Zen with her friend and housemate, Olivia Burke, who was also killed in the incident. Restaurant owner Alvin Louie said Eimear has started working at the restaurant at the beginning of June as a hostess and had so impressed her managers with her enthusiasm that she had already been promoted to waitressing. She had worked her first day as a waitress on Monday.

"They were great young kids, very enthusiastic, full of energy," he told a local newspaper, "We're all devastated."

Eimear Walsh and her friend Olivia Burke were past-pupils of Loreto College Foxrock, where they are understood to have sat their Leaving Certificate exams in 2012.

This morning the school said their community is “deeply saddened and shocked by the events that took place in Berkeley”.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of Olivia and Eimear, and to the families of the other students who died.  Please keep in your thoughts and prayers all those who have been injured and affected by this terrible tragedy,” they added.

Eimear Walsh.jpg
Eimear Walsh

Olivia Burke (21)

Olivia, from Foxrock in Dublin, attended Loreto Foxrock until 2012. She is reported to be a student of Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.

Olivia was expected back at the south Dublin college in September to start her final year of a degree in entrepreneurship and management.

In America, she was working at sushi restaurant Hana Zen with her friend and housemate, Eimear Walsh, who was also killed in the incident.

Mark Robinson, who is radio programme director at East Coast Radio where Olivia Burke worked recently, described her a 'a great kid'.

"It is a very, very sad day here," he told Newstalk's Pat Kenny.

"Olivia was a great kid, it's tough in these situations. The work she did was very, very good, but really aside from that she was a bright, bubbly, young kid who was a bit shy to start with. She was here for five months on her work experience. The great thing is she didn't just get involved in the work, she made herself available to volunteer and get involved in other things.

"She put in a lot of time and a lot of effort.

"People here were discussing her in depth this morning and just very sad because she was such a lovely, young lady."

Olivia Burke 2.jpg
Olivia Burke

Eoghan Culligan (21)

Eoghan, from Rathfarnham in south Dublin, has been described as a 'life-long GAA fan'. He had been a member of the Ballyboden St Enda's club since childhood and played football for its intermediate and junior teams. The GAA club have paid tribute to Eoghan, saying he was 'very popular with his team mates'. Eoghan attended St Mary's College in Rathmines until 2012.

Eoghan Culligan was studying at Dublin Institute of Technology, where he had finished his third year in Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

According to his social media pages, Eoghan was a fan of comedians Cheech and Chong and the musicians King Kong Company.

He is survived by his parents Gerry and Marie Culligan and his brothers Andy and Stephen.

Eoghan Culligan (21) who died in the Berkeley balcony tragedy

Niccolai Schuster (21)

Niccolai, from Terenure, is survived by his parents Graziella and John and his brother Alexei. He was a student at St Mary's College in Rathmines until 2012. While at school, he travelled to Ghana as party of a voluntary group called the 'Ghana Immersion Project'. He was studying at UCD.

A passionate sports fan, Niccolai had posted a photo of Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry as his profile picture online.

Irish student Nick Schuster

Lorcan Miller (21)

Lorcan was studying medicine in UCD. He attended St Andrew's College in Booterstown until 2012. In 2014, he took part in the UCD Medsoc's charity event 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

The former principal of St Andrews College where Lorcan Miller attended secondary school, and where his mother taught Irish, described the tragic student as one of 'those particularly special young men'. Lorcan played on the school hockey team, had roles in the choir and musicals and also took key positions in the school's Model United Nations.

"Lorcan was an exceptional young man, he was a student officer, he won awards nationally and internationally, he was a sportsman, an academic, he wanted to study medicine which he achieved," Arthur Godsil told Newstalk this morning.

"But, above all, he was an exceptionally pleasant young man, he had the ability to include and engage people and he had the ability to care, he had such skills in that direction.

"It's a really, really sad loss for his friends and everybody around him, a man with such potential, a  man with such vision and so much to give.

"I heard last night students were gathering around south Dublin just to be together, trying to make sense out of something they can't make sense out of.

"It is devastating and it shouldn't have happened, these people were too young and too bright and would have contributed so much, not just to this country, but internationally," he continued.

"I knew Lorcan and he was one of those particularly special young men, he managed to engage people and understand people.

"I was devastated hearing the news last night, it was just one of those horrendous days when we have to move forward.

"You can only remember what people leave behind, and Lorcan left so much behind in his life.

"It's a tragic loss and my heart goes out to the Miller family."

10849869 1039242696101201 .jpg
Lorcán Miller

Ashley Donohue (22)

Ashley was an Irish-American citizen from Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California. She was a student at Sonoma State University. She was a cousin of Olivia Burke who was killed in the incident. Ashley's parents are both believed to be from Ireland.

Her high school vice-principal said of her: "Ashley was loved by her peers. She was definitely a leader."

Ashley was a soccer player, a homecoming queen and was 'academically top notch'.

Ashley Donohue

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