Saturday 22 October 2016

'It was a sombre scene as news reporters arrived at the hospital'

US news host Janet O
US news host Janet O
Police and officials stand outside of the Library Gardens apartment complex, where a fourth floor balcony rests on the balcony below after collapsing in Berkeley

I am a reporter for ABC7 News in San Francisco and yesterday morning we heard about the terrible tragedy where a balcony had collapsed at an apartment in Berkeley.

My colleague Amy Hollyfield was at the scene at Kittredge Street and was reporting on how four young Irish people had died at the scene.

We found out in the morning that they were celebrating a birthday when the balcony collapsed.

We learned early on that the injured students had been taken to three different hospitals. Initially I went to Eden Medical Centre in the Castro Valley where it was reported that four of the injured students were being treated.

There were lots of Irish students outside the hospital and they were all very upset. It's devastating for all the students involved and it was a very sombre scene at the hospital.

I spoke to them briefly and they were all very emotional and spoke of how they were trying to check on the status of their friends.

They said they were all in the Berkeley area together celebrating a friend's birthday and were here for the summer for work on a J1 visa. After that I travelled to Highland hospital in Oakland and we heard from the Berkeley police that the patients suffered from serious to critical conditions but the hospitals wouldn't elaborate.

Media were not allowed on hospital property and all of the media personnel who had gathered there were waiting on an update from the director of marketing.


We waited a while for updates and eventually the hospital staff confirmed the hospital admitted three patients following the accident, two female and one male. There were lots of Irish students at Highland as well when I arrived but they all went inside.

None of them wanted to talk to us as they were concerned for their friends.

They were obviously distraught and emotional and we wanted to respect their privacy at such a difficult time. Last night there was lots of information still developing.

We knew that four people died at the scene and two people died at the hospital but we didn't know which ones.

There were lots of media anxiously waiting information until last night's press conference.

Unfortunately, Highland hospital could not update us on the condition of any of the patients.

As of last night, six people had died and seven were being treated at different hospitals across the city.

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