Erin Brockovich, the American lawyer and environmental activist whose life and career was the subject of a major Hollywood film, has reached out to the families caught up in the Berkeley tragedy.
In a Facebook entry posted last night, she said: “As a Californian, I am devastated that these young visitors to our shores were caught up in this horrific situation.
“My heart goes out to their families, friends, and loved ones, and along with all of the people of California, I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the people of Ireland.
“The waking nightmare that these families have been living for the past week is hard to imagine, and no words from me or anybody else can ease their pain.”
The 55-year-old is also calling for “immediate action on the costs for Berkeley families”.
She added: “Some of those injured would require extensive care before being able to return home.” Ms Brockovich furthermore explained that it was essential that families did not face the “additional nightmare of mounting medical bills”.
The lawyer has now made herself available to meet with and assist the families, and says she wants to help them find “a non-litigious solution in the coming weeks”.
She continued: “As a lifelong activist, I feel it is my duty to come forward and offer these families my assistance. For those who did not survive the accident, there is a need for us to uncover the truth about what happened.
“For those who did survive, there is a pressing need to ensure that the company responsible for this tragedy is held to account.”
Ms Brockovich added: “I will be calling upon those involved to do the right thing in an effort to avoid the need for prolonged and expensive litigation.”
Her calls are being supported by Dublin law firm Phelim O’Neill, with which she is working.
The Facebook post concludes by saying that she offers her “deepest sympathies” to the victims of the tragedy, “and to the people of Ireland”.
On this side of the Atlantic, Erin Brockovich is still best known for the 2000 movie of the same name. Starring Julia Roberts in the title role, the actress went on to win an Oscar for her portrayal.
Despite coming from a disadvantaged background and with no formal legal training, Ms Brockovich was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company 20 years ago.
She currently works for Girardi & Keese in the New York, and Shine Lawyers in Brisbane, Australia.