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Balcony tragedy that killed six happened after contractors cut corners to save costs, court told

Published 19/12/2015

The scene of the tragedy in which six young people died
The scene of the tragedy in which six young people died
The Irish students killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse: Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Lorcán Miller, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke, all 21 years old and friends from south Dublin. The sixth fatality is Irish-American Ashley Donohoe (22), from California.
Police tape blocks off a section of Kittredge Street in front of the apartment building where balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California (AP)

The "unimaginable terror" of the Berkeley balcony collapse victims is laid bare in legal papers which claim contractors cut corners to save building costs.

Legal papers filed with a US court reveal a harrowing account of the night last summer when a joyous party for J1 students in California ended with the deaths of six people.

"None of the victims had any reason to know or suspect that a catastrophe was imminent," the account reads.

"Suddenly, and without warning, the balcony broke loose from the building, tumbled down and struck the third-floor balcony directly below it.

"The mechanics of the failure hurled the 13 students on to the cement sidewalk and asphalt pavement 40ft below."

Six students were killed in the tragedy, while others suffered injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

"The unimaginable terror that each victim experienced during the fall was eclipsed by the carnage on the ground," the account continues.

Lawyers also claim that corners were cut to save costs. It is alleged the management company for the building, Greystar, ignored a "red flag" when students who rented the apartment complained about the presence of mushrooms growing on the balcony.

Legal cases for personal injuries have been lodged by Niall Murray, Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Sean Fahey, Conor Flynn, Jack Halpin and Hannah Waters.

These cases are set to be combined and heard together in the New Year.

Shane Phelan, Irish Independent

Irish Independent

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