Aoife Beary: Berkeley balcony collapse survivor dies, aged 27

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Aoife BearyImage source, Aoife Beary/Facebook

Aoife Beary, a survivor of the 2015 Berkeley balcony collapse that killed six students, has died, aged 27.

She died after suffering a stroke in the Irish capital, Dublin.

Ms Beary had experienced life-changing injuries after a fourth-floor balcony collapsed in June 2015 while she was celebrating her 21st birthday.

A later investigation found that joists supporting the deck were suffering from dry rot and had been constructed by a company with a history of complaints.

In recent years she became an advocate for construction reform in California.

Ms Beary and her friends had been visiting the US under the popular J-1 summer working visa programme when the tragedy struck.

The balcony had been constructed by a company that had a history of legal claims against it and which it had not disclosed to the Californian state licensing board that regulates the building industry.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A section of the collapsed balcony in 2015

Five Irish students and one Irish-American friend were killed in the collapse, while seven others suffered a range of serious injuries.

Aoife Beary was left with a traumatic brain injury, broken arms, hands, pelvis and jaw, as well as lacerations to her liver, kidneys and spleen, a collapsed lung and broken ribs. She later underwent open heart surgery.

In 2016, she testified before the California state legislature during a hearing on legislation to force building contractors to be more transparent about past legal claims against them.

During emotional testimony, she told legislators how she had lost much of her independence after the accident and that her career goals had been ended.

"My life has been changed forever," she said.

She also recalled how she and her friends, who she had known since the age of four, had travelled the world together. She said that her birthday would now "always be their anniversary".