The students killed in a Berkeley, California balcony collapse have been identified as a group of students, including five from Ireland in what officials from the nation called a “national tragedy.”
“We have thousands of Irish students come to the US every summer. … To have this happen at the start of this season is something that has left us all frozen in shock and in disbelief,” said Phillip Grant, the consul-general of Ireland.
Authorities said they were still trying to figure out what caused the collapse early Tuesday morning that also left seven people seriously injured. The injured were reportedly being treated at Eden, Highland and John Muir hospitals.
“From some of the officers I spoke with, they told me that it was quite disturbing,” said Berkeley Police Department Officer Byron White. “Any time you have a tragedy like this involving young people, it’s disturbing. … You heart just goes out to the families.”
Officials said that five students were from Ireland — Oliva Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller, and Eimear Walsh, all 21.
Owen Buckley, 21, a student at Dublin State University, said he knew one girl who’d attended. Buckley said she’d been injured and hospitalized.
“It was just a loud crash,” said Buckley, who was not at the party and in his unit on the third floor, “and then silence for a couple of minutes and then just a scream.”
“We were sure someone was shot,” he said.
All were on J-1 student visas and participating in a student exchange summer work program. Most were from South Dublin and attended various schools.
“My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the deceased and those who have been injured in this appalling accident,” Ireland‘s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan said in the statement.
Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, California, was also killed in the incident.
Click here to continue reading.
SOURCE: ABC News/AP – Enjoli Francis, Dan Good