Tag Archives: Berkeley fatality

Bones of missing UC Berkeley student found in Marin

Shuqin Zhang. Photo: BPD
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A 22-year-old UC Berkeley student who had been missing since January has been confirmed by authorities to have died in Marin County.

Two sets of bones found on a beach in April were recently confirmed to have been a DNA match for Shuqin Zhang, who disappeared about a week after New Year’s, authorities said this week. Police described the young woman at that time as “missing and at risk” and were concerned for her mental health based on reports that she had been struggling with depression.

Authorities began to look for Zhang in January after she failed to board a flight home to China, the Berkeley Police Department said at that time. On Jan. 9, authorities found Zhang’s 2012 white Mercedes and some of her possessions on a cliff near the Point Reyes Lighthouse. Despite an extensive search, no other signs of her were found.

Marin County Chief Deputy Coroner Darrell Harris said Wednesday that hikers on the shoreline at Drakes Beach on April 23 came upon some scattered bones they believed might have been human. They took photographs and sent them to park rangers three days later. Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley fined nearly $100K after longtime worker ‘fatally crushed’ by garbage truck

Johnny Tolliver, who worked for Berkeley's Zero Waste division, died Monday after he was hit by a city garbage truck. Photo: Tolliver family
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A state agency has fined the city of Berkeley nearly $100,000 after a worker was crushed by his garbage truck in the Berkeley Hills in January, according to a recently concluded report obtained by Berkeleyside on Tuesday.

Johnny Tolliver Sr., 52, was working as part of a two-person team collecting trash when their truck lost its brakes and rolled, pinning Tolliver against a utility pole in January, according to preliminary reports. Although Tolliver was conscious and talking at the scene, at 90 Parnassus Road, he died later that day at Highland Hospital of his injuries. He had worked for the city for more than 25 years.

Scroll down to see the city response.

Tolliver was “fatally crushed” as he tried to stop his truck from rolling down the hill on Parnassus, according to the June report from the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA.

The agency, which is charged with investigating workplace safety issues and on-the-job fatalities, found the city responsible for three accident-related penalties categorized as “serious.” Each carries a fine of $22,500. Three other general penalties categorized as “serious” carry fines of more than $8,400 each, and a fourth serious violation has a listed fine of more than $5,000, according to the June 22 report. … Continue reading »

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Hundreds hold vigil for Cal student slain in Bangladesh

A group of Tarishi Jain's dorm floormates share remembrances of her at a vigil at the University of California, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Jain, 18, was among 22 people killed during a suspected-ISIS terror attack at a cafe in Bangladesh. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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Hundreds of people gathered at Sproul Plaza at noon Tuesday to pay their respects to Tarishi Jain, a UC Berkeley student murdered by Bangladesh terrorists last week, and others killed in the attack.

Under gray and foggy skies, Jain’s friends from her dorm, classes, and campus groups described a young woman who was sweet, generous, altruistic, and intelligent. They urged the crowd to remember the 18-year-old for all her accomplishments and friendships, not for her brutal death.

“She was one of the sweetest and most sincere people I had ever met,” said Jain’s friend Mackenzie Monroe. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student among those killed in Bangladesh terrorist attack

Tarishi Jain. Photo: UC Berkeley
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Update July 5: Cal will hold a vigil from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday on Sproul Plaza to remember Tarishi Jain.

Original story, July 2, 8:14 a.m. An 18-year-old UC Berkeley economics student was killed sometime Friday or Saturday by ISIS gunmen who stormed a cafe in Bangladesh and hacked about 20 people to death.

Tarishi Jain of India was among those slain, according to the New York Times. Her death was confirmed by Sushma Swaraj, India’s minister of external affairs.

Scroll down for a statement from UC Berkeley.

“I am extremely pained to share that the terrorists have killed Tarushi [sic], an Indian girl who was taken hostage in the terror attack in Dhaka,” Swaraj posted on Twitter.

She was a sophomore at UC Berkeley, according to a statement released Saturday morning by the university. (Scroll down to read it.)

Jain had gone to the restaurant, Holey Artisan Bakery, in Dhaka’ s diplomatic quarter to have dinner with friends, one of her relatives told the Indian Express. Around 9:20 p.m. gunmen stormed the restaurant and took about 20 people hostage, most of them foreigners, according to news reports. They held police at bay for 11 hours. Police eventually stormed the restaurant around 7:40 a.m. Saturday and killed six gunmen, according to new reports. Thirteen hostages were rescued. … Continue reading »

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Schools

Hundreds hold vigil in Berkeley to remember Efe Ustenci

Saturday's vigil for Efe Ustenci drew hundreds of people. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Several hundred community members came together at Berkeley High School on Saturday evening to remember 17-year-old Efejon Ustenci, who drowned Wednesday in Placer County less than a week after he graduated from BHS.

The theme of the vigil, said photographer Ted Friedman, who attended the event on behalf of Berkeleyside, “was to ‘live Efe’s legacy.'”

One friend told Friedman that Efejon, known to many as Efe, would be remembered as someone who was nurturing, humorous and fair-minded. Others have described him as a natural leader looked up to by many, a talented athlete, and a kind and loving young man.

A fundraiser to help collect money for burial costs has raised more than $16,000 since it was created Friday evening.

Wrote Chris Young on the memorial page, “In my work with BIHS [Berkeley International High School] I see students names a lot and meet most of them as seniors. After visiting me once, I noted that Efe carried himself with maturity and kindness. At graduation he thanked me, though I hadn’t done much to directly serve him. Efejon Ustenci! His name jumps off my list of graduates. Yes, Efejon Ustenci. That’s that humble young man who stands out as a beautiful example of strong character for his peers and teachers. Surely, he will inspire us into the future.”

Several photographs from the memorial appear below. … Continue reading »

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Fundraiser, vigil planned for drowned Berkeley student

Efe is remembered as a talented athlete. Photo: Ustenci family
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The Berkeley Unified School District has announced a vigil and fundraiser for Efe Ustenci, who drowned earlier this week in Placer County while on a trip with friends.

The fundraiser to help pay for the 17-year-old’s burial costs has already raised more than $3,600 in approximately an hour. Its goal is $10,000.

A vigil at Berkeley High School has been planned for Saturday, June 25, from 5-6-30 p.m. in the courtyard. The school district had counselors on campus Friday to help offer support.

Wrote BHS Principal Sam Pasarow in the email about the vigil and fundraiser, sent Friday at 9 p.m.: “Please join us as we mourn the loss of Efejon Ustenci, and also celebrate his life.” … Continue reading »

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Recent Berkeley High grad, 17, dies in drowning

Efe Ustenci (attribution unknown)
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Update, June 24, 10:11 p.m. Read about the vigil and fundraiser that have been set up for Efe.

Original story, June 23, 2:07 p.m. The Berkeley community is mourning the tragic death Wednesday of Efejon Ustenci, who graduated with his Berkeley High School class less than a week ago.

Placer County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Dena Erwin said the 17-year-old, who lived in Berkeley, died in Long Lake. The lake is near Soda Springs, west of Lake Tahoe. She confirmed the teenager died from an apparent drowning and said his body has been recovered, but said no other information was immediately available because the coroner’s investigation is still underway.

Berkeley Unified School District spokesman Mark Coplan said mental health counseling services will be available at Berkeley High on Friday for anyone who needs to drop in for support.

Scroll down to the bottom of the story to read BHS Principal Sam Pasarow’s message to the community.

Efe had been planning to attend Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo in the fall, according to his Facebook page.

Friends mourned Efe’s death online.

Wrote Dante Ryan on Thursday morning: “I just heard seconds ago what happened, and I am mortified. I didn’t know you as deeply as I could have, but I did know what a beautiful soul you were. I was blessed to have class with you all 4 years of high school, and your positive attitude always brought the classroom up. You were always a unifying force. A smart, kind, accepting person. Always supportive of me and my dreams as I was you and yours. This is a sad morning.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley balcony collapse tragedy: One year later

People comfort each other at a vigil at St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, on Friday, June 19, 2015, for the victims of Tuesday's balcony collapse in Berkeley. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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One year ago today, Berkeley woke up to the horrifying news that a balcony holding 13 people had sheared off the face of Library Gardens, an apartment building in downtown Berkeley, sending six people in their 20s to their deaths.

News of the tragedy rippled through the world, as most of those killed were young Irish students who had come to the Bay Area on J-1 visas for the summer. Families who had sent their children off for three months of fun, work and American culture boarded transcontinental flights with heavy hearts to bring their children’s bodies home.

Read more Berkeleyside coverage of the balcony collapse.

From the earliest hours of the tragedy, questions arose about why the balcony had fallen off. Library Gardens at 2020 Kittredge St. had only been built nine years earlier. When reached by phone shortly after the calamity, John DeClercq, one of building’s original developers insisted to Berkeleyside that top-notch contractors and materials had been used.

But clearly something had gone wrong. The city of Berkeley conducted an investigation and concluded that the wooden beams holding up the balcony had rotted. The beams had not been properly waterproofed during construction, allowing water to eat away at the fibers. … Continue reading »

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Human skull, bones found on Berkeley Lab property

A human skull and three bones were unearthed on Berkeley Lab property on Monday. Photo: LBL Photo: Berkeley Lab
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A human skull and three human bones were discovered on Berkeley Lab property Monday during some routine digging to clear a ditch.

According to a release put out by the Lab on Wednesday, a Lab facilities crew working to clear a drainage ditch in “very steep and brushy terrain” on Berkeley Lab’s southern perimeter discovered a skull and one bone around 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The Alameda County coroner’s office was called in and completed its search of the site on Tuesday after finding two more bones. The remains were found outside of Berkeley Lab’s fence line but on Berkeley Lab’s property. 

It is not known how long the remains were in the ditch, nor how old they are. Foul play is not suspected, according to the Lab’s statement, pending new information from the coroner’s office.

Jon Weiner, a spokesman for the Lab, said they were waiting to hear back from the coroner’s office as to any possible identification of the remains. … Continue reading »

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DA will not file criminal charges in balcony collapse case

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley (center) with office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick (right) and Chief Assistant District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update: Berkeley mayor reacts to the DA’s decision — see foot of the story.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley announced Tuesday that her office will not be filing criminal charges in relation to the June 16, 2015, balcony collapse in downtown Berkeley that killed six students, and left seven others with serious injuries.

The DA’s investigation has concluded that the primary reason the balcony collapsed was “water [that] had been trapped (or “encapsulated”) in the balcony deck during construction, leading to eventual and extensive dry rot damage.” There was insufficient evidence that “a defendant had acted with gross or reckless conduct akin to a disregard for human life,” the office said.

Read more on the June 16, 2015, balcony collapse.

This corresponds with the city of Berkeley’s investigation immediately following the accident which identified dry rot as the only contributing factor in the the collapse that happened in the early hours of June 16 at Library Gardens at 2020 Kittredge St.

The DA’s office announced it would launch a criminal investigation on June 25, after the city of Berkeley had completed its investigation. The city had said that forensic examination and laboratory tests of the balcony were outside its scope of review. The city subsequently ordered inspections and stiffened requirements about materials, venting and access in Berkeley buildings to ensure safer conditions. … Continue reading »

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Police

Police investigate apparent suicide near UC Berkeley

Photo: Citizen reporter
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Update, Feb. 25, 4:20 p.m. The coroner’s office has identified the woman who died as 25-year-old Hanaa Djouider, and classified the case as an apparent suicide. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt injuries. She is listed in the UC Berkeley campus directory.

Update, 6:35 p.m. Police have identified the woman who died in the 2300 block of Telegraph Avenue on Wednesday morning as a 25-year-old Berkeley resident. Police got the call at 5:35 a.m. Authorities are investigating the case as an apparent suicide, said BPD spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Telegraph Avenue was closed between Durant Avenue and Bancroft Way for approximately four hours during the investigation.

Original story, 12:01 p.m. The Berkeley Police Department is investigating an apparent suicide early Wednesday morning near the UC Berkeley campus.

Few details have been released, but many people in the area noticed that Telegraph Avenue was blocked off to traffic between Durant Avenue and Bancroft Way on Wednesday. A coroner’s van was on the scene, along with many other emergency vehicles.

The incident took place around 5:30 a.m. According to preliminary reports, a young woman appears to have fallen from the roof of a multi-story building in the 2300 block of Telegraph. … Continue reading »

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Former Berkeley High student, 20, dies in auto accident

David Ponce Garica, known as Tony, in 2012. Photo: Facebook
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Services will be held today and tomorrow for David Ponce Garcia, also known as Antonio or Tony, who died in a car crash Feb. 17 in an unincorporated part of Alameda County near Pleasanton.

Garcia, 20, attended Berkeley High School. He was killed when he pulled an illegal U-turn on Stanley Boulevard around 1:30 p.m., according to a CHP officer in the Dublin division. Another car traveling eastbound on Stanley Boulevard could not stop in time, broadsided Garcia’s car, and pushed it into a guardrail. The car caught on fire, killing Garcia.

There will be multiple services for Garcia, according to a sign posted at his mother’s store near Cole Coffee on College Avenue. There will be a Velación, or wake, from 4-8 p.m. Feb. 22 at Sunset View Cemetery at 101 Colusa Ave., El Cerrito.

On Feb. 23, there will be a mass at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison Ave. in Berkeley. That will be followed by a burial at Sunset View Cemetery. There will be a gathering to remember Garcia at the El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moser Lane, after the burial. … Continue reading »

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402 Berkeley buildings found to need fixes after launch of inspection program spurred by balcony collapse

What appears to be rotting wood can be seen on the remains of the balcony that collapsed at the Library Gardens Apartments, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Photo: David Yee
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Inspections performed in Berkeley since last year’s deadly balcony collapse at Library Gardens found more than 400 buildings that needed work out of nearly 2,200 with weather-exposed elements, such as balconies, stairways, decks and landings, according to a city report released Wednesday afternoon.

The inspections were part of the city’s response to the Library Gardens tragedy last June, which killed six young people and seriously injured seven others when a fifth-floor balcony broke off a downtown Berkeley apartment building during a birthday celebration.

Council voted in July to require the inspection by Jan. 15, and every following three years, of all weather-exposed exterior elements in properties with at least three units. The city also stiffened requirements about building materials, venting and access to make inspections easier to do and allow for better airflow to elements that could be impacted by water damage and other problems.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage about the balcony collapse.

The Berkeley City Council is slated to receive an update Feb. 23 about the “Exterior Elevated Elements” (E3) program, which mandates the inspections. … Continue reading »

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