Berkeley Apartment Balcony Collapse Kills 6, Critically Injures 7
A balcony collapsed Tuesday at an apartment building in Berkeley, Calif., killing at least five Irish students, one American, and leaving seven others injured, authorities said.
Police received a call about the incident at 12:41 a.m. local time Tuesday, and when officers arrived they found that the balcony on the 4th floor of a building built in 2006 on Kittredge Street had detached from the wall and turned upside down onto the balcony on the 3rd floor, sending victims tumbling into the street.
Many of the injured have critical, life-threatening wounds, Officer Jennifer Coats, a spokeswoman with the Berkeley Police Department, said.
Four people died at the scene and two others died at a hospital.
“I walked out and I saw rubble on the street and a bunch of Irish students crying,” said Mark Neville, who has been in the U.S. for three weeks under the J-1 visa program, which are temporary visas given to those approved to participate in work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs.
Irish broadcaster RTE reported that there was a 21st birthday party taking place in the apartment before the balcony collapsed, according to Sky News.
The building is two blocks from the University of California, Berkeley campus.
Police said they received a noise complaint about a loud party at about 11 p.m, an hour before a balcony collapsed. He said police did not respond to the call, adding that there are frequent complaints about noise in the areas near the university.
(Image source: BBC)
“They were having a party — suddenly it went down,” Gerald Robinson, 65, drove two victims to the hospital, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “It came down really fast and chucked everybody off.”
Robinson said he just left the movies and was in his car when he was flagged down by a bloody young man and woman, both Irish. He drove them to Highland Hospital in Oakland to see their friends and stayed with them for about an hour.
“They were distraught. They were hanging on each other for comfort,” said Robinson.
“I saw a bunch of bodies,” said witness Jason Biswas, 16, a student at nearby Berkeley High School. He said the victims were in “piles of blood,” adding, “It seemed like a movie, but it wasn’t.”
Another witness, Xueyao Song, 18, said, “It was really horrible. We came down and saw people crying, holding each other.”
(Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald)
City officials ordered the property owner to “immediately remove the failed balcony and to perform a structural assessment of the remaining balconies within 48 hours,” said Matthai Chakko, a city spokesman.
Officers are still investigating and she doesn’t have any information on how the collapse occurred or what the people were doing on the structure at the time.
At an afternoon news conference in Berkeley, Alameda County officials identified the deceased as Ashley Donohoe, 22, of Rohnert Park, California, and 21-year-old Irish nationals Oliva Burke, Eoghan Colligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh.