In a decision that is likely to reignite the sorrow of those affected by the Berkeley tragedy, and rub salt on the wounds of the families who lost loved ones, a US judge has ruled that no criminal charges will be brought against any individual or company in relation to the tragedy.
The tragic event took place on June 16 2015, during a birthday celebration in Berkeley, California. Six Irish students, Lorcan Miller, Eoghan Culligan, Nick Schuster, Ashley Donohoe, Eimear Walsh and Olivia Burke lost their lives, and seven more people were seriously injured, when the balcony gave way and they all plunged to the ground.
The judge’s decision was announced by a district attorney in California, following a nine-month investigation into the event.
Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley said that there was “insufficient evidence to bring criminal manslaughter charges against any one individual or company.”
The DA stated that it has been firmly established that the cause of the tragedy was water droplets trapped within the balcony deck during its construction. This in turn led to dry rot, which was the reason the structural integrity of the balcony became severely compromised. It could never have withstood the combined weight of the people standing on it.
She continued, “The responsibility for this failure likely extends to many of the parties involved in the construction or maintenance of the building.”
The DA concluded that “it would not be possible to single out beyond reasonable doubt any one party guilty of manslaughter.”
Despite the ruling, lawyers representing the families affected by the Berkeley balcony tragedy said they will press on with civil lawsuits.