The tragic events that happened in Berkeley, where a balcony collapsed throwing six youth to their death and another seven in critical state, left the community in shock and families grieving.
The family of two victims who died in the tragic event wish to hold a joint funeral for Ashley Donohue and Olivia Burke, cousins.
Olivia was 21 years old and came to study in the U.S. from her native Dublin. Ashley was aged 22 and was Olivia’s best friend. Her native grounds are that of Rohnert Park where the girls’ family is holding the funeral on Sunday.
The family of the two girls have only just seen each other after the balcony collapse took the lives of their daughters. Fr. Aida McAleenan, San Francisco based stated the meeting under the circumstances have allowed the family members to only ‘put one foot in front of the other’.
Berriden by grief, they still have not seen either Ashley or Olivia. Sunday will mark the funeral of Ashley in her native Rohnert Park. Olivia will then be flown back to Dublin for the funeral procession amidst her closest family and friends.
All of the families who are still looking to reach their sons or daughters are supported by the Irish-American community as everyone is struggling to cope with the situation and understand what happened.
For the funerals, Phillip Grant – Irish Consul to San Francisco is trying to support the families by any means and make all necessary preparations for a long journey home that will end with heart-breaking funerals.
Ashley and Olivia, as well as Eimear Walsh, Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan and Niccolai Schuster, the six victims of the Berkeley balcony collapse were commemorated at the Oakland Cathedral by more than 300 people.
The other seven students severely injured in the balcony collapse are still under medical treatment and observation. Aoife Beary and Hannah Waters are in critical condition. Their parents, coming from Blackrock and Castleknock, Dublin have been keeping to their bedsides ever since their arrival at Oakland Hospital on Tuesday.
Students from the same J1 program and friends of the victims organized a candlelight vigil throughout the night, continuing the relentless support for the families of those who lost their lives in the Berkeley balcony collapse, as well as for those who are critically injured.
In the Martin Luther King Civic Center Park one bench stands testimony to all the prayers and good thoughts going out to the victims. Photos of the six students who lost their lives are adorning the small bench amidst candlelight, flowers and people who are still struggling to grasp what happened.
The balcony of the Library Gardens Berkeley building was initially meant as a purely decorative add-on. It was never meant to support heavy weights and wearing out of structural features with the passage of time made it collapse on early Monday morning.
Soon, the funerals of Ashley, Olivia, Eimear, Lorcan, Eoghan and Niccolai will take place. That is not the end of the story as the families are left bewildered and grieving at an unexpected fluke that took the lives of their children and injured seven more.
Image Source: channelone.com