California balcony collapse: Clodagh Cogley has simple plans to pay tribute to those who died

Irish student, 21, who may never walk again, vows to "honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible”

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The Independent US

A student who survived the California balcony collapse that killed six of her friends has said that she will "honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible”.

Clodagh Cogley, 21, said that she was unlikely to walk again after suffering a broken spinal cord, collapsed lungs, a broken shoulder, knee and ribs – but has reassured friends that she plans to make the best of it.

In a post on Facebook that has received more than 30,000 likes, Ms Cogley – who like five of the dead is from Ireland – advised her friends that “life is short” and that they should “enjoy a good dance” as if it were their last.

Six people – the five Irish students and an American friend - fell 40ft to their deaths, and seven others were taken to hospital, after a balcony collapsed at a student party in the university city of Berkeley last week.

“The fall from the balcony left me with 2 collapsed lungs, a broken shoulder, a broken knee, 5 broken ribs and a broken spinal cord … Meaning the chances of me using my legs again are pretty bleak,” Ms Cogley wrote.

 

She added: “Not the best odds but I'm moving to a great rehabilitation centre here in San Francisco for 2 months (it has dog therapy) and intend to give it everything I've got.

“Who knows maybe legs have been holding me back all these years and I'll realise my talent for wheelchair basketball.”

“The thing I'm taking from this tragedy is that life is short and I intend to honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible.

“Enjoy a good dance and the feeling of grass beneath your feet like it's the last time because in this crazy world you never know when it might be.”

Ms Cogley, from Dublin, flew to California to work for the summer after finishing her third year of a psychology degree at Trinity College Dublin, the Irish Times reported.

Last week she received well-wishes from Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

Prosecutors and local officials have launched an investigation into the tragedy, despite earlier reports that criminal charges were unlikely to be brought.

Potential targets could include the general contractor for the apartment building or the company that applied a waterproof membrane to the balcony, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Berkeley-funeral.jpg
Eimear Walsh was buried in Dublin

An initial report into the tragedy, on 16 June, released this week by city investigators found that the balcony collapsed because of “rot and decay” in wooden supports.

Olivia Burke, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcan Miller, all 21 and from Ireland, died as did Californian Ashley Donohoe, 22.

More than $230,000 has been raised to help the families of those who died, through an online fundraising effort.

Back in Ireland, funerals for Irish students have been held, with hundreds turning up to pay their respects.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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