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Berkeley Balcony Collapse: Six Student Deaths Avoidable? Balcony Was Decorative

Wed, June 17, 2015 3:46pm EDT by 5 Comments
Berkeley Balcony Collapse
Courtesy of Getty Images/Facebook

This is heartbreaking. The Berkeley University balcony tragedy that killed six students on June 16 could have been avoided, as a new report reveals that the balcony was only ‘decorative’ and not meant to hold a large group!

Our hearts continue to go out to the families of the six students who died in the tragic Berkley University accident — Irish students Olivia Burke, 21, Eoghan Culligan, 21, Niccolai Schuster, 21, Eimear Walsh, 21, Lorcan Miller, 21, and American Ashley Donohoe, 22. The six students lost their lives when the balcony they were on collapsed and fell four stories. It’s possible that this deadly event might have been avoided, as a new report claims the balcony was only decorative and wasn’t designed to support that many people!

The six students fell to their death in the early hours of June 16 while celebrating a birthday party at a Library Garden apartment, two blocks from the Berkeley campus. In total, 13 people were crammed on the balcony when it collapsed. The structure, as it turns out, was designed to be more of a decoration and not hold that much weight.

“This [balcony] was meant just to be a place where someone could stand out for a bit, get a breath of fresh air. Not for something like 13 people,” Carrie Olson, a former member of the Berkley Design Review Committee that approved their building, told SFGate.

The balcony that killed the six students was designed to beat 60 pounds per weight per square foot, according to a Berkley city spokesman. Joshua Kardon, a structural engineer at Berkeley, said that apartment owners in the area don’t typically post weight limits for balconies and aren’t required to by law.

With 13 people on the balcony, it was simply overloaded and couldn’t hold everyone. Had a sign been posted, alerting how many people and how much weight the balcony could safely hold, the six students may still be alive. How sad!

Six Students Killed In Tragic Accident When Apartment Balcony Collapsed

The five Irish students were from South Dublin and were visiting Berkeley on a J1 working visa program. They, along with eight other students, piled themselves onto the balcony around 12:40am. The balcony detached from the wall and completely flipped over, dropping the students over 50 feet. By the time the police arrived at 1am, the structure had completely collapsed. Four of the students were dead at the scene, with two more passing away in the hospital. The other seven students suffered major injuries.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the friends and family of all those involved during this difficult time.

— Jason Brow