Families of four Berkeley tragedy students say the road to recovery is "far from straight"
The families of the four Irish students who continue to receive medical treatment in California following last month's balcony collapse in Berkeley have issued a statement, saying the road to recovery was "far from straight", and that they had "been through so much".
The families of Aoife Beary, Clodagh Cogley, Hannah Waters and Niall Murray thanked all those who have helped them over what they have described as a "traumatic and difficult" five weeks.
They said they were mindful of the many friends who were in Berkeley that "terrible night, some of whom were also seriously injured and others who responded so tenderly to the needs of our children at the scene and in the immediate horrific aftermath.
"We would like to thank all those who have been at our service 24/7 to help us all with matters great and small.
"The Bay Area and Berkeley police and fire department staff and the ambulance paramedics who were first on the scene of the accident - their early interventions contributed so much to keeping our grievously injured children alive."
The families said they were "so grateful" to their children's many friends who were in Berkeley on 16 June who had stayed on to continue to help the injured young people, despite having never imagined "such a tragic end to their J1 experience".
They said they "salute them as genuine heroes" and have asked them to "take great care of themselves" in the coming months as they need time to heal too.
It follows a massive fundraiser for Aoife Beary on Saturday that raised more than 30,000 to help pay for her treatment.
An earlier concert for all the survivors and their families in Dublin’s Academy venue also raised massive funds.
The statement added: "As traumatic and difficult as the past five weeks have been for Aoife, Clodagh, Hannah and Niall, our constant thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and friends of Eimear Walsh, Ashley Donohoe, Olivia Burke, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcán Miller and Eoghan Culligan. May they rest in peace."
The Beary, Cogley, Waters and Murray families have also praised all those who have contributed to fundraising efforts and offered mass cards, calls, texts, messages, prayers and gifts and "random but very moving acts of kindness and generosity".
They said they hoped their children would be able to "make their way home in the coming weeks and months", when they were "ready and sufficiently strong enough to do so".
The parents have asked that when they do eventually come home that their friends and well-wishers give them some space until they are ready "physically and emotionally to reach out and invite them to meet".
They continued that they did not know when that would be but they hoped everyone would understand their need to be "overprotective" for "some time to come".
They said that although they "share everyone's wish for speedy recoveries", they have found that "every new week brings more complexity and that the road to recovery is far from straight, even in the very best of clinical environments".
The four young people have all now been moved to the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where they are continuing their rehabilitation programmes.
Three of the seven students injured in the collapse – Sean Fahey, Jack Halpin and Conor Flynn – have already returned to Ireland.
The District Attorney responsible for Berkeley, Nancy O'Malley, is continuing her investigation into what caused the balcony of the Library Gardens apartment building to collapse in the early hours of 16 June during a 21st birthday party for Ms Beary.
The initial investigation carried out by building and planning officials from the City of Berkeley local authority found that the wooden beams holding the balcony to the building had extensive dry rot.