Berkeley shock still setting in

Patricia Briody pictured at Aras an Chontae, Longford, signing the Book of Condolence which was opened in memory of the six Irish students -  Ashley Donohoe, Olivia Burke, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcan Miller - who lost their lives following the balcony collapse tragedy in Berkeley, California. Photo: Shelley Corcoran
The mother of one of two Longford students who were in the Berkeley apartment complex at the time of last week’s balcony collapse has said she has yet to come to terms with the tragedy.

The mother of one of two Longford students who were in the Berkeley apartment complex at the time of last week’s balcony collapse has said she has yet to come to terms with the tragedy.

Ann Sullivan’s son Dan was sleeping in a ground floor apartment in the Library Gardens apartment complex when its fourth floor balcony collapsed.

Six Irish students, who like Dan were on J1 visas, were killed in the incident while seven others remain in a critical condition in hospital.

Ms Sullivan said she initially learned that something was wrong at around 12:15pm local time when she received a phonecall from a friend.

“She just said ‘Ann, I don’t want to alarm you, but you had better make contact with your son’.”

She eventually succeeded to get through to Dan half an hour later by email before managing to Skype her son later that afternoon.

She said that agonising 30-minute spell was one she never wants to revisit as she empathised with the victims, their families and those still fighting for their lives.

“I just shook and I’m still not right from it,” she said.

Ann said she didn’t sleep at all the night news of the Berkeley tragedy broke.

“I stayed up all night because I wanted to Skype him,” she said.

Media interest surrounding the ill-fated events of last Tuesday has also been intense she said, with the family receiving calls from both Newstalk and the BBC.

She said Dan, together with several hundred other JI students, attended a candle-lit vigil in Berkeley last week to remember the victims.

Meanwhile, a book of condolence has been opened at Longford County Council.

The decision was announced by outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Mark Casey at its AGM last Wednesday and the book is currently open for signing in the council offices.