Prosecutors to lead criminal investigation into balcony collapse

Berkeley police said they will help with the inquiry
Berkeley police said they will help with the inquiry

Prosecutors in the San Francisco Bay Area have said they will lead a criminal investigation into the Berkeley balcony collapse that killed six college students, including five from Ireland.

Berkeley police will help with the inquiry, the Alameda County district attorney's office told the Oakland Tribune.

The development comes two days after building inspectors said the fifth-floor balcony that snapped off an apartment building was supported by wooden beams badly rotted by exposure to moisture.

Eight timber beams which supported the fourth floor balcony at Library Gardens apartment complex were found to have greatly weakened due to the dry rot. The initial report found the joist ends appeared to be "severely dry rotted". 

Five of the students who died on June 16 were from Ireland and working in the Bay Area for the summer. Seven others were seriously injured and remain in hospital.

It is unclear who the inquiry would target but personal injury lawyer Michael A Kelly told the newspaper that criminal charges could range from negligence or recklessness to manslaughter.