Berkeley balcony collapse: Survivors' families thank the 'heroes' who helped
The families of four Berkeley balcony collapse survivors have thanked the "genuine heroes" among their friends and the medics on that tragic night for saving their loved ones.
Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Hannah Waters and Niall Murray remain in hospital in California following the horrific incident last month that saw six of their friends die when a fourth floor balcony gave way underneath them.
Three other J1 students were also hurt in the incident that happened as the young people were celebrating Ms Beary's 21st birthday party.
An initial probe found the tragedy was caused by dry rot in the balcony's wood and the matter remains under investigation by US authorities.
A statement issued last night on behalf of the families by Ms Cogley's father Niall described the last five weeks as "traumatic and difficult".
"Our constant thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and friends of Eimear Walsh, Ashley Donohue, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eoghan Culligan. May they rest in peace.
"We are also very mindful of the many friends who were there in Berkeley that terrible night, some of whom were also seriously injured and others who responded so tenderly to the needs of our children at the scene and in the immediate horrific aftermath.
"They, too, are victims, and they have also had to deal with the trauma of this terrible loss.
"We salute them all as genuine heroes and we ask them to take great care of themselves and to continue to look after each other... They, too, will take time to heal."
The statement thanked US emergency services and medical staff .
"Their early interventions contributed so much to keeping our grievously injured children alive," it added, with the statement going on to thank the US doctors and nurses treating the survivors.
"We obviously share everyone's wish for speedy recoveries but we have found that every new week brings more complexity and that the road to recovery is far from straight, even in the very best of clinical environments.
"We hope that our children will be able to make their way home in the coming weeks and months when they are individually ready and sufficiently strong enough to do so.
"We would only ask that, when they eventually do return, that their many friends and well-wishers will be able to contain themselves a little longer until they are really ready, physically and emotionally, to reach out and invite them to meet."
It also expressed gratitude to the Government and Irish consul general Philip Grant, Aer Lingus which provided free flights and donors who made contributions to fund the families' protracted and expensive stay in the US.