A mother who lost her daughter and niece in Berkeley balcony collapse pays touching tribute

A mother who lost her daughter and niece in Berkeley balcony collapse pays touching tribute
Ashley Donohoe and her cousin Olivia Burke(far left and second from left respectively). Picture: Jackie Cronin Donohoe Facebook

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.

Ashley Donohoe
Ashley Donohoe

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.

Olivia Burke
Olivia Burke

“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.

A mother who lost her daughter and niece in Berkeley balcony collapse pays touching tribute

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.

"We had grown up together, and now my birthday will always be their anniversary.”

More on this topic

New California law will allow inspections of balconies every six yearsNew California law will allow inspections of balconies every six years

Plaque unveiled in US commemorating victims of Berkeley balcony collapse Plaque unveiled in US commemorating victims of Berkeley balcony collapse

Students killed in Berkeley balcony collapse remembered in USStudents killed in Berkeley balcony collapse remembered in US

Families of Berkeley balcony collapse victims gather to mark third anniversaryFamilies of Berkeley balcony collapse victims gather to mark third anniversary

More in this Section

Man accused of scamming two elderly people out of €330,000Man accused of scamming two elderly people out of €330,000

Ireland ‘in grip of sexual violence crisis’; Rape Crisis Centre sees demand for services soarIreland ‘in grip of sexual violence crisis’; Rape Crisis Centre sees demand for services soar

Gardaí object to bail for manGardaí object to bail for man

Third of parents in debt to cover back-to-school costsThird of parents in debt to cover back-to-school costs


Lifestyle

This year heralds the return of a much-maligned shade, pulled from the design doldrums and now paired with some unexpected complementary colours, materials and tone-on-tone activity, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Fifty shades of beige

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

Every day, I take my wife a cup of tea in bed. However, we sometimes make love in the mornings and she pauses to finish her cup before it goes cold.Sexual healing: Her long tea breaks cools the moment

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

More From The Irish Examiner