herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Last survivor of the Berkeley balcony collapse arrives home to Ireland

Hannah Waters arrives home to Dublin

The scene of the tragedy in June in Berkeley, California and (right) Hannah Waters who has arrived home to Ireland
The scene of the tragedy in June in Berkeley, California and (right) Hannah Waters who has arrived home to Ireland

DUBLINER Hannah Waters, the final survivor of the Berkeley balcony tragedy, has arrived home.

The 21-year-old from Castleknock finally returned to Ireland three months after the tragedy.

The DCU student survived the incident that killed six of her friends in Berkeley, California, in June of this year.

She was one of seven seriously injured in the balcony collapse.

The six other injured students arrived home to Ireland in recent weeks.

Hannah Waters who was injured in the balcony accident in Berkeley.
Hannah Waters who was injured in the balcony accident in Berkeley.

The Irish consulate in San Francisco marked the event by posting an image of Seamus Heaney’s Postscript poem on Twitter.

The image was accompanied by a picture of an Aer Lingus flight leaving San Francisco.

They wrote: “A postscript for Berkeley as the last of our students heads home.

“Our hearts caught off guard and blown open. Godspeed.”

Another survivor of the tragedy, Niall Murray (21), from Rathfarnham, arrived home in Dublin last Wednesday.

Mr Murray spoke publicly for the first time, detailing how he suffered from survivor’s guilt.

Kisses

He said he would “always remember that night”.

He recalled the group of friends in the apartment joking and laughing, playing a game where the 21st birthday girl gets 21 kisses, before hearing a “big rumble”.

The NUI Galway student said he would give anything to be able to go back and warn his friends not to go out on the balcony at 2020 Kittredge Street.

Five Irish students – Lorcan Miller, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Olivia Burke – and Irish American student Ashley Donohoe, died in the incident on June 16.

The Irish group were visiting the States on J1 visas. They had been celebrating the 21st birthday of Aoife Beary, one of the seven injured.

Marking three months since the collapse earlier this month, another of the survivors, Clodagh Cogley, recalled the heartbreaking events.

“I don’t have the words to describe the sadness of their passing, so all I will say is that I am thinking of their families and friends.”

condolence

Earlier this month, UCD honoured three of the students who died in the tragedy – Niccolai Schuster, Eimear Walsh and Lorcan Miller.

Three bound copies of the university’s online book of condolence, which had almost 20,000 signatures, were presented to each of their families who were in attendance.

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