Honorary Consul Noel Trainor
By Ray O’Hanlon
The grief spanned the Atlantic.
It spanned America.
It also spans the wide stretch of ocean between the continental United States and Hawaii.
A fund has been established in Hawaii to assist the families of the five Irish J-1 students and one Irish American student who died after the June 16 Berkeley balcony collapse.
And an investigation by Berkeley authorities has pinpointed rotted wooden joists that linked the balcony to the apartment building.
The Berkeley J1 Student Tragedy Aloha Fund is administered by The Society of The Friends of St. Patrick Hawaii, an organization formed in Hawaii in 1955 to provide assistance to Irish immigrants, native Irish, and those of Irish descent.
Information can be found at fosphawaii.ning.com.
“This is a tragedy that touches us all,” said Noel Trainor, Ireland’s Honorary Consul to Hawaii.
“The funds we raise will assist the immediate needs of the students and their families, who must now cope with the loss of their children in a place far from home,” said Trainor, who is a Belfast native.
The Society of the Friends of Saint Patrick chairman, Bill Comerford said: “In a week full of tragedies and sad headlines we Irish of Hawaii, are particularly sympathetic to these families facing such sad losses so far from home.
“We wish to aid those who face this tragic circumstance and ask those of like feelings to join us by extending a hand of aloha.”
Contributions to the fund may be made in three ways:
- Visit any branch of American Savings Bank and deposit a check made payable to the Friends of Saint Patrick with a memo line Berkeley J1 Aloha Fund to Account # 81028 32968
- Mail a check to The Friends of St. Patrick, PO Box 2178, Honolulu, HI, 96805. The check should be made out to The Friends of St. Patrick and should include Berkeley J1 Aloha Fund in the memo line.
- Contributions may also be made online by visiting www.gofundme.com/J1tragedyfund.
Meanwhile, as the funerals of the five Irish students reached their end in Ireland, the cause of their deaths became starkly clear.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the balcony that collapsed was supported by wooden beams that were “severely dry rotted.”
The determination was made by Berkeley city inspectors.
“Reported the Chronicle: “City officials said they are recommending new regulations ‘to enhance the safety of all current and future buildings in Berkeley’ in the aftermath of the collapse of the fifth-story balcony at 2020 Kittredge St. early June 16.
“The changes would require new balconies and other waterproofed areas to be subject to more rigorous requirements for materials inspection and ventilation, the city said. The regulations would also require routine inspections for new and existing buildings within six months after the rules take effect and then once every five years.”
The New York Times reported that “the joists beneath the concrete balcony were extensively rotted in the spot where the structure collapsed.”
Added the Times report: “The wooden joists were ‘completely sheared off’ the building, the inspectors wrote, and ‘appeared to be severely dry-rotted.’”
The reported added, however, that city officials said that the scope of the report was limited, and that they were not calling the wood rot the official cause of the collapse.