Monday 24 October 2016

Berkeley balcony tragedy: Joint funeral for cousins

A family that suffered two deaths in the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse will hold a joint funeral for cousins Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohue.

Dublin student Olivia (21) and her cousin and friend Irish-American citizen Ashley (22) were both killed as a result of the balcony collapse in the early hours of Tuesday morning which left six young people dead and seven more injured.

Their families will travel to Ashley's native Rohnert Park, California for a funeral for the two cousins, before Olivia is brought home to Ireland.

Fr Aidan McAleenan who lives in the San Francisco area, but is originally from Co Down, said the grieving families who arrived in Berkeley are 'just putting one foot in front of the other'.

READ MORE: Berkeley tragedy fund raises over $30k in less than a day

"Everybody has just wrapped their arms around the families," Fr McAleenan told Newstalk Breakfast.

"When they got here, they were just exhausted. They're just walking here, just putting one foot in front of the other.

READ MORE: Berkeley tragedy: Rotted beams likely cause of balcony collapse, says mayor

"But the over-riding question was when do they get to see their children, they want to go home at the weekend, so they have to work out those details.

"The families will get to see their children in the morning and then they'll take them home Sunday or Monday, Monday at the latest.

"The two cousins Olivia and Ashley will have a joint funeral in Rohnert Park, it's about an hour and a half north of San Francisco.

Berkeley Tragedy Victims' Fund

The Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre in San Francisco has set up an online account to raise funds for the students affected by this tragedy and to assist the immediate needs of their families.

Click here to make a donation to the fund

"They will have a joint funeral there and then the young woman will be buried, and then they'll bring the Irish woman home to Dublin and she will be buried in Dublin."

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