The lawyers and parents of Ashley Donohue, the Irish American student killed alongside five Irish J-1ers, in a balcony collapse in Berkeley, have presented evidence to the local district attorney claiming there was of a history of ignored problems with the building in question, dating back years.
The law firm Rains Lucia Stern, representing George and Jackie Donohue, the Irish parents of Ashley (22), from Rohnert Park, CA, presented the findings to the Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. Their findings raised concerns that the investigation into the balcony’s collapse “may not be truly independent or neutral.”
On Thursday she had announced the launch of a criminal investigation into the collapse of the apartment balcony that killed six and injured seven others.
O’Malley said the families of the six victims who lost their lives “deserve to have this matter thoroughly and extensively investigated”.
The Dublin students who died were Eoghan Culligan, Lorcán Miller, Niccolai Schuster, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke. Those injured were Hannah Waters, Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Jack Halpin, Conor Flynn, Sean Fahey, and Niall Murray. Flynn and Fahey have been released from hospital in recent days.
The Donohoes, through their lawyers, contacted the owners and property managers of the Library Gardens, student accommodation block, on Kittredge Street, where the tragedy took place. They demanded notification of where the collapsed balcony was preserved.
The findings the Donohoe’s lawyers presented included a statement from Aoife Beary one of the survivors. On the night of the collapse, June 16, the students had been celebrating Beary’s 21st birthday. She told the lawyers that the balcony was sloping downwards, towards the street, before the collapse.
Their lawyers claim that there was a history of water infiltration and balcony decay dating back to 2010. They also presented the DA with photos of the water damage showing streaking and staining since 2008.
The evidence included complaints of rot, roof and plumbing leaks and flooding were made as recently as three months ago. The failure by management had led to the residents complaining to the housing authorities.
Before the investigation was handed over to the DA the firm sent letters to the building’s owner Blackrock, the property manager Greystar and to city officials. Their letter raised concerns that the investigation into the balcony’s collapse “may not be truly independent or neutral.”
On Thursday at a press conference DA Nancy O’Malley said the investigation would examine whether a crime was committed in the lead up to the collapse:Read more: New York’s Irish community mourns victims of the Berkeley tragedy (PHOTOS)