A mother who lost her daughter and niece when a balcony collapsed in the US paid a touching tribute to them.
Ashley Donohoe and her cousin Olivia Burke died four years ago, when a fourth floor balcony of a rented apartment in Berkeley, California collapsed, in the early hours of June 16, 2015.
The fatal balcony collapse, also claimed the lives of six students Eimear Walsh and Lorcán Miller along with Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan as they attended a 21st birthday party being held for close friend Aoife Beary who was seriously injured in the fall.
All of them were in the US for the Summer on J1 student working visas.
Ashely’s mother Jackie Cronin Donohoe, posted a touching photograph of her daughter and niece along with her another daughter Amanda and their friend Eimear who also died on her Facebook page.
She said: “The best things to hold onto in life are each other.”
Scores of people reacted to her post with one saying, “What a beautiful photo. What a terrible loss of lives,” while another added: “What a lovely photo Jackie, of wonderful young ladies, who will never be forgotten. Love to you all.”
Mrs Cronin Donohoe petitioned US law makers successfully to introduce the changes to balcony construction and review following her daughter’s and niece’s horrific deaths.
She told legislators at the time, “My life was changed forever a year ago when I lost my daughter, Ashley and my niece Olivia when a balcony they were standing on collapsed in Berkeley, California and they and four other students fell to their deaths.
“If you or a loved one rent an apartment with a balcony or have ever been on vacation and stepped out on a balcony to admire the view – you, too, may be in danger as you have no idea if/when that balcony has been properly inspected.
“SB 465, a bill in the California State Legislature, is the first step to require stronger standards for materials used in building balconies, mandate annual balcony inspections, and standardised training for building inspectors.
“It is also the first step to ban secret settlements in lawsuits involving builders and contractors who have been found negligent – as the public has a right to know. We can’t get Ashley and Olivia back, but if this tragedy can save the life of even one person who steps out on a balcony.
“I created this petition in honour of all those who were injured and those who no longer have a voice.”
An investigation into the incident found that the balcony collapsed due to “rot and decay” in the wood but a County District Attorney said they earlier this year that they will not be filing criminal charges.
Construction industry representatives withdrew their opposition to a new law which will require them to report previous convictions for shoddy work.
The other students who were injured in the balcony collapse include; Niall Murray, Hannah Waters, Sean Fahey, Jack Halpin and Conor Flynn. Their injuries at the time included a brain injury, a severed spinal cord, shattered knees and elbows, broken limbs, cracked ribs and punctured lungs.
A plaque was unveiled in Berkeley last year to commemorate them and list all their names. Ms Beary, a Dubliner who survived the collapse, told a public hearing into the horrific balcony collapse back in 2016 that her birthday will forever mark the anniversary of the death of her friends.
"I miss my friends so much - I have known them since we started school together at four years of age," she said.