Berkeley tragedy hits home

Sian Moloughney

Reporter:

Sian Moloughney

The tragedy in Berkeley, which saw six young people lose their lives, touched very close to home for some local families.

The tragedy in Berkeley, which saw six young people lose their lives, touched very close to home for some local families.

The minutes and hours of desperate, terrifying worry and then the overwhelming relief to hear their loved ones were alive, and their heartfelt sympathy for the families who were not as lucky, they shared with The Nationalist this week.

They are just two of the many local families who have sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, school and college friends in America working on a J1 visa this summer.

A young man who was hailed as a hero in the wake of the tragedy, for actions which saved his friend’s life, is from a Ballymacarbry family. 21 year-old Jack Halpin reached out to his friend Clodagh Cogley as they fell from the balcony and her family have publicly thanked him for saving her life by breaking her fall.

Jack suffered very serious injuries but is receiving excellent medical care and his doctors hope he can make a full, physical recovery.

Another young lady from Clonmel, nursing student Rebecca O’Keeffe, was in her Berkeley apartment just three streets away when the tragedy happened. She has described to her parents how the whole atmosphere of the city has changed from one of lighthearted, summer fun and freedom to a sombre, sad feeling.

Rebecca has decided to stay in Berkeley for the rest of the summer, even though the students have been told that in the wake of the tragedy their travel insurance will cover them to fly home.

But both families are grateful that Jack and Rebecca will be coming home to them and they have paid tribute to the support they have received from family, friends and especially the young student who are rallying to support each other as they experience such awful sadness and loss.

Tributes have been paid to those who lost thier lives in the tragedy by political leaders in the county. Anyone who would like to add thier words of comfort is invited to sign a Book of Condolences at the County Council Civic Offices.