Berkeley balcony collapse survivor dies aged 27 after suffering stroke

An Irish woman who survived a 2015 balcony collapse in Berkeley, California that killed six people has died aged 27.

Aoife Beary, from Blackrock in south Dublin, was celebrating her 21st birthday with friends when a balcony they were partying on gave away, causing those on it to fall about 40ft (12.2m) to the ground.

Ms Beary, who was in California on a J-1 summer working visa, suffered severe brain damage, organ lacerations and multiple bone fractures. She underwent open heart surgery and received treatment and rehabilitation in both California and Dublin before she suffered a stroke last Wednesday.

She died at Beaumont hospital in Dublin on Saturday, leaving behind her parents Mike and Angela, her younger brother Tim, her younger sister Anna and her wider family, the Irish Times reported.

Ms Beary, who studied pharmacology at Oxford Brookes University in England, lost several friends in the collapse, including her cousins Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe.

Lorcán Miller, Eimear Walsh, Niccolai Schuster and Eoghan Culligan also died in the tragic incident at the Library Gardens apartment block on 16 June, 2015. Six other students were left with life-changing injuries.

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In the years after the balcony collapse, Ms Beary became vocal about the need for public companies to release public safety records. In testimony to the California State Senate, Ms Beary said her life had changed “forever”.

She said her injuries “will be with me the rest of my life”, and that her career goals had to be put aside as a result.

“Now my birthday will always be their anniversary,” she told Californian politicians.

University College Dublin, where Ms Beary graduated in 2016, extended its “deepest condolences” to her family.

In a statement on the university’s website, Professor Joe Carthy said: “Aoife dealt with the devastating impact of her accident with great bravery and fortitude. She was awarded a BSc in Pharmacology in 2016. She will be greatly missed by her family and wide circle of friends.

“I know Aoife’s passing will rekindle memories of the six students who died in the Berkeley accident in June 2015 and our thoughts are with their families too.”

South Dublin GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) club Cuala also paid tribute in a post on its website which read: “It is with a heavy heart and great sadness we have to tell you that Aoife Beary passed away peacefully last night in Beaumont Hospital.

“We are all devastated.

“We pass on the condolences of the whole Cuala community to Mike, Angela, Tim, Anna and the whole Beary family.”

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