A business student has been hailed a hero after he saved the life of an Irish woman when they fell from a balcony and he caught and broke her fall.
UCD’s Jack Halpin (21) suffered serious back injuries and two broken legs in the horrifying incident in California on Tuesday.
The brother of Clodagh Cogley (21), a student at Trinity, paid tribute to Jack on his sister’s behalf. Darragh Cogley said his sister was doing “really well” after an operation on her spine, knee and shoulder.
“She is awake, somehow upbeat and doing really well. [We] can’t believe how lucky she and the rest of the survivors were and Clodagh wanted to say particular thanks to Jack Halpin for grabbing her and breaking her fall,” he said on Facebook.
Jack, from Rathmines, is a past pupil of St Mary’s College, and worked for the Omniplex cinema chain. He took the summer off so he could travel with friends to the US. Operations director at Omniplex Mark Anderson said Jack is a hero.
Clodagh Cogley from Milltown, Dublin, injured in the Berkeley balcony fall.
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.
“We were all horrified and shocked to hear about the terrible events in Berkeley, especially when we found out that a staff member, Jack Halpin, was involved,” Mr Anderson said.
“We are relieved that he is safe and our thoughts are with him, his family, and the other people involved.
“We have (heard) that he may have helped save the life of one of the girls involved. This is the ultimate of act bravery and selflessness that would be typical of a guy like Jack.
“We wish him well in his recovery and if we can be of any assistance or can help in anyway possible, we are happy to do so,” Mr Anderson added.
A popular footballer with St Jude’s GAA in Dublin, Jack is among the seven Irish students still in various hospitals with serious injuries. Families of the victims were coming to terms with the tragedy and some relations have travelled to the US.
Dublin students Nick Schuster, Lorcan Miller, Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan – all aged 21 - and Irish-American Ashley Donohoe (22) died. Olivia and Ashley were cousins. Seven students – including Jack Halpin and Clodagh Cogley – remain in hospitals in the Bay area.
Hannah Waters (21), from Deerpark, Castleknock, was in a critical condition last night.
The DCU student’s parents, Martin and Una, rushed to the US to be at her bedside.
“They left straight away of course,” a neighbour said.
Aoife Beary is from Blackrock and it was her 21st that was being celebrated in the apartment where she lived. She is believed to be seriously injured.
The family of DIT student Conor Flynn (22), from Mount Merrion in Dublin, are hopeful he will recover from injuries he suffered. His father, Alan, said he did not feel up to commenting yesterday, but confirmed his wife had travelled to Berkeley to be at her son’s side.
Sean Fahey (21) from Rathmines, went to St Mary’s College and family members are also in the US. Niall Murray (21) was recovering last night from his injuries. According to his Facebook page he is studying at National University of Ireland Galway. His aunt Mary O’Keefe last night posted in the UCD book of condolences.
“I pray for the recovery of my wonderful nephew Niall Murray who was injured in this tragic accident. My deepest sympathy goes out to the families of the beautiful young men and women who lost their lives and those who were injured. No words can express how deeply I feel for all of those involved,” she wrote.
In Berkeley, Greystar, the management company of the Library Gardens Apartment complex, has assigned representative to liaise with students who were based in the building.
A company representative was meeting groups of Irish students and helping them with alternative arrangements in a hotel near Kittredge Street.
None of the students wished to make any comment, but did confirm they are no longer staying in the apartments. Visitors and tributes continue at the site. The tragedy has devastated Irish people, but its effects have been felt by other nationalities.
Yuri Vaughn, a native of Japan who lives in El Cerrito, seven miles north of Berkeley, was visibly emotional.
“My children are just grown and they are finished their education and are focusing on settling into their life.
“These people came here so young and so full of dreams and it’s just terribly sad,” she said.
American student Sari Kosdon (25) lives on the opposite side of the apartments.
“I see these kids all the time, and they’re just so happy to respond to this country and to the opportunity, and they’re here two weeks or three weeks. I feel as a country we failed them and that’s really sad,” she said.
Additional reporting by Ryan Nugent, Conor Feehan and Paul Healy