Lawyers for parents of Berkeley victim present claims

Lawyers for Ashley Donohoe’s parents claim student at party said balcony was ‘sloping’

American lawyers for the parents of one of the six students killed in the Berkeley balcony collapse have presented evidence to the local district attorney which, they claim, shows a litany of ignored problems at the California building dating back years.

San Francisco law firm Rains Lucia Stern – representing George and Jackie Donohoe, the Irish parents of Ashley Donohoe (22) of Rohnert Park, California – presented their findings to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley on Thursday, shortly after she formally announced a criminal investigation into the June 16th balcony collapse that killed six and injured seven more.

Ms O’Malley told reporters that each family of the six victims “deserve to have this matter thoroughly and extensively investigated”.

She promised to examine whether there was enough evidence to prosecute a criminal negligence case.


The findings presented by the lawyers for the Donohoes include a statement from a student who was at the 21st birthday party on the night of the collapse. She said the balcony was sloping downwards, away from the building towards the street, before it collapsed.

Water infiltration

The law firm maintains there was a history of water infiltration and balcony decay at the Library Gardens building at 2020 Kittredge Street dating back to at least 2010.

They presented the District Attorney and her officials with photographs of water damage to the building’s exterior at the fourth-floor balcony showing streaking and staining as far back as 2008.

Complaints of rot, roof and plumbing leaks and flooding were made as recently as three months before the collapse, the law firm has said, and the failure by management to act led the residents to complain to housing authorities.

Before the district attorney took over the investigation, the law firm sent legal letters to the building's owner Blackrock, property manager Greystar and to city officials, raising concern that the initial investigation into the balcony failure "may not be truly independent or neutral".

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent