A concrete balcony on the fourth floor of a Library Gardens apartment building crumbled and collapsed sending 13 people falling to the ground below in Berkeley, California. Of those that fell, six died at the scene of the collapse. The other seven people who fell sustained very serious injuries. The exact details of the injuries and the identities of some of the people involved were not revealed in order to protect the privacy of the families.
The incident started in the evening. Many people had come together in an apartment at Library Gardens to hold a 21st birthday party for someone. A number of people who live in the apartments are work-study students from Ireland staying temporarily in the United States. Someone contacted policed stating that there were noise problems from the building. This fits in with the reputation of Library Gardens as being a place where parties are held. This is partly because of the student tenants and partly due to the proximity to the University of California at Berkeley.
The balcony is around five feet deep and ten feet long. It juts out of a door on the side of the fourth story apartment. The partygoers seemed to have stepped out onto the balcony to socialize and enjoy the view of the city. This is when it collapsed without any warning. The sound of the collapse was so loud that it woke up other tenants. The sound even leads one person to think an earthquake was occurring. The incident happened just a little past midnight.
Police immediately investigated the collapse and the balcony. The victims who fell did not appear to be doing anything wrong. Additionally, building codes stated that the entire balcony should have been able to hold at least 3,000 pounds of weight without any problems. This is less than the weight put on the balcony by the students. The financial investment company BlackRock owns the building through a subsidiary. They are currently investigating why the balcony collapsed.
Six of the individuals who died were actually from Ireland using work-study visas to stay in the country. The seventh victim was an American student living in Sonoma County, California. It is unclear what ramifications this will have legally. Wrongful death suits could be filed if the balcony was defective or if some other negligence resulted in the collapse. The injured victims could potentially hire a lawyer to file personal injury claims to recover damages from BlackRock or the subsidiary. An attorney will be necessary since those companies are large and own more than 400,000 apartments in the country.