Tragedy Strikes Birthday Party After Balcony Collapses
Published: June 16, 2015
Tragedy Strikes Birthday Party After Balcony Collapses, A fourth-floor balcony crammed with people celebrating a 21st birthday collapsed early Tuesday near the University of California’s Berkeley campus, killing five Irish students and seriously injuring eight other people, authorities said.
Police and fire and building officials were working to determine what caused the roughly 5-by-10-foot balcony to break loose from the side of the apartment building. It landed on the railing of the 3rd-floor balcony below, dumping the partygoers.
“I just heard a bang and a lot of shouting,” said Dan Sullivan, a 21-year-old student from Ireland who was asleep in the building. Mark Neville, another Irish student in the building, said: “I walked out and I saw rubble on the street and a bunch of Irish students crying.”
All five of the dead were in the U.S. on temporary work visas, Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said. Their identities were not immediately released.
Police had gotten a complaint about a loud party in the apartment about an hour before the accident but had not yet arrived when the balcony gave way at 12:41 a.m., police spokesman Officer Byron White said. Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said police told him 13 people were on the balcony.
The building in the heart of downtown Berkeley has apartments in the upper floors and stores at ground level. The neighborhood just blocks from the University of California, Berkeley, is dotted with museums, a city library, restaurants, coffee shops and chain stores.
The Library Gardens apartments were built in 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported. The complex is managed by Greystar Management, whose website says the company operates more than 400,000 units in the U.S. and abroad. A call to Greystar officials was not immediately returned.
Four people died at the scene and one in a hospital, officials said.
Irish President Michael D. Higgins said that he “heard with the greatest sadness of the terrible loss of life of young Irish people and the critical injury of others in Berkeley, California, today. My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of all those involved.”
Jerry Robinson, who lives nearby, told San Francisco news station KGO-TV that he had just gotten out of a movie when two hysterical people flagged down his car asking for a ride to a hospital to check on injured friends.
“They were friends of the people who were on the balcony. A couple of the women did not have shoes. One of the women had blood on her knees,” he said.
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