A survivor's of last summer's Berkeley tragedy has addressed a court in Sacramento, and spoke of the effect the devastating incident has had on her in an effort to ensure the passing of a bill which forces greater transparency among building contractors with poor safety records.
22-year-old Aoife Beary was celebrating her 21st birthday while on J1 in California when six party-goers – who had congregated on an apartment balcony – lost their lives after the balcony in Library Gardens collapsed.
Aoife, who also sustained catastrophic injuries during the incident on June 16th, told a public hearing that her life has been forever altered as a result.
After introducing herself and thanking everyone present for the opportunity to speak, Aoife recalled the excitement she and her friends felt at the prospect of a summer in the United States.
While paying tribute to her friends, Aoife struggled to maintain her composure as she recalled the various other adventures they had embarked upon together since beginning university.
"I miss my friends so much. I have known them since we started school together at four years of age," Aoife told the hearing while attempting to hold back tears. "We had grown up together. And now my birthday will always be their anniversary."
Addressing the US state committee, Aoife expressed disbelief that a debate over the issue was even taking place, saying: "I cannot believe why you are even debating this bill. You should ensure that all balconies are scrutinised in this state to prevent this happening again."
It is understood that representatives of the construction industry at the hearing withdrew their opposition to the bill.
Eimear Walsh, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Eoghan Culligan and Lorcán Miller and Ms Burke's cousin, Irish-American Ashley Donohoe lost their lives last summer.
Video credit: Irish Independent