Engineers review structural damage of the collapsed balcony at Berkeley's Library Gardens that killed six Irish students. Photo: Mark Boster/LA Times.
When safety rules are not followed in building design, construction or maintenance procedures, tragedy becomes a foreseeability. Tragedy struck last night near UC Berkeley at the Library Gardens apartment complex, where a fourth-four balcony holding 13 people collapsed and fell to the earth. Six victims have died, while several more are in the hospital, some of them with life-threatening injuries, police say. All of those involved are believed to be young Irish students visiting America on J-1 work visas.
The Monday night of June 15th started as a festive one for the students, who were celebrating a woman's 21st birthday. Police had previously responded to a noise complaint about the party an hour before the balcony crashed 40 ft. to the ground at around 12:41 AM. Four victims died at the scene, while two more died in the hospital. As Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan stated, Ireland is now mourning for its children lost in a terrible accident, while the Irish people's hearts are with the victims' families. Americans, too, are sending their consolation.
While it's very early to establish any certain causes behind last night's collapse, there are some red flags that point to the possibility of negligence. As KRON reports, all of the balconies at Library Gardens had been "red-tagged and deemed unsafe before the accident." The apartment complex also had several negative reviews on Yelp, with 11 of 18 reviewers giving one to two stars out of five. The following review by "S.R." especially stands out in light of yesterday's deaths and injuries:
Too bad this company preys on (Cal students) by creating a building that looks nice and new after that first visit, but suffers from poor construction, terrible maintenance, security problems and bad management. Great for Library Gardens, not so great for the Berkeley student population.
A thorough investigation by the Berkeley Fire Department should determine what caused last night's horrible events that took the lives of young, hopeful Irish students who had so much to look forward to. In the meantime, say a prayer for those who died and those who are fighting for their lives. They didn't deserve such a catastrophe, and that's why any wrongdoers must be held accountable.