More than $200,000 raised for victims, families involved in Berkeley balcony tragedy

Ariel Hayat/Senior Staff
On Sunday, a community mass was held at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco for the victims of the balcony tragedy. Many attendees sported Irish sports jerseys to honor their country.

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Hundreds of thousands of dollars will go to support the families and friends of the six dead and seven injured after Tuesday morning’s balcony collapse.

Several GoFundMe pages have been established to fund flights and traveling expenses, and a mass for the victims was held in San Francisco on Sunday.

One such GoFundMe page, the Irish J1 Berkeley Tragedy Fund, was created by the Irish Immigration Pastoral Center on Tuesday and had raised about $200,000 as of Sunday. Another page created Wednesday to fund the flights of Olivia Burke’s friends back to Ireland to attend Burke’s funeral has already surpassed its $10,000 goal. Burke was one of those killed in the crash.

“I … was one of Olivia’s best friends, and I can’t bear the thought that some of her close friends would miss her funeral in Dublin due to financial status,” wrote Clementine Keane — one of Burke’s friends, who started the GoFundMe effort — on the page. “We desperately want to fly home to say our last goodbyes to our beautiful friend.”

The American Ireland Fund, a philanthropic network, made a $100,000 donation to support those involved with the incident, including a large donation to the pastoral center.

“The tragedy in Berkeley, California has had a profound effect on the Irish at home and around the world,” said a statement on the Ireland Funds website. “The task of meeting the needs of the families and friends of the bereaved and injured is urgent.”

In addition, victims’ friends and families have taken to social media to garner support for those still recovering in the hospital. Clodagh Cogley, who was injured in the collapse and is a fan of the “Harry Potter” series, received a tweet from J.K. Rowling, the author of the books, expressing encouragement.

A community mass was organized for Sunday morning at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, where hundreds prayed for the deceased, the injured and their respective families. Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s minister for diaspora affairs, spoke on behalf of the government of Ireland and commended efforts throughout the Bay Area to “help the families grieve together with dignity.”

Several members of the San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association’s youth league attended the mass to honor the victims. According to league member Padraig Lyons, who plays with several visiting Irish students, the rallying and support from the Irish community has been “amazing.”

“We would like to thank everyone in America and Ireland for their sympathy and support, which has been a tremendous comfort to us at this tragic time,” said a statement from the Irish Consulate of San Francisco on behalf of four of the victims’ families.

John Muir Hospital confirmed that two of the injured are now in “fair condition,” and hospitals housing other victims could not be reached for comment.

Contact Ariel Hayat and Andrea Platten at [email protected].