"Some of my injuries will be with me for the rest of my life," Irish student Aofie Beary told California lawmakers in 2016, the year after she was badly injured in a balcony collapse that killed six of her friends. The rest of her life turned out to be far too short. Beary, 27, died in Dublin on Saturday, two days after she had a stroke and was hospitalized, the San Jose Mercury News. Beary was celebrating her 21st birthday in Berkeley when the fifth-floor balcony collapsed, killing five 21-year-old Irish citizens and a 22-year-old Irish-American man. Beary, one of seven people injured, suffered a traumatic brain injury and a collapsed lung, reports SFGate. Her arms, hands, jaw, and pelvis were broken.
Beary had open heart surgery after the June 16, 2015 incident. It's not clear whether her Dec. 30 stroke was connected to her injuries. Beary, a student at Oxford Brookes University in England, previously studied pharmacology at University College Dublin. "Aoife dealt with the devastating impact of her accident with great bravery and fortitude," UCD’s Dean of Science Joe Carthy said in a statement. "She will be greatly missed by her family and wide circle of friends." Investigators determined that the balcony collapse had been caused by "classic dry rot," even though the apartment building was less than a decade old.
After the collapse, it emerged that the contractor that built the apartment had earlier paid out $6.5 million in balcony-related lawsuits. Beary testified in support of a state law to improve construction standards and deal with "bad actors" in the industry, which passed the state Senate unanimously. "I miss my friends so much," she told lawmakers, per the Irish Examiner. "I had known them since we started school together at 4 years of age. We had grown up together. And now my birthday will always be their anniversary." (Read more balcony collapse stories.)