Tag Archives: Berkeley fatality

Schools

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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Police

Update: Man dies after being struck by train in Berkeley

Authorities are responding to West Berkeley for a report of a person who was hit by a train. Image: Google Maps
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Update, Feb. 18, 1:35 p.m. The coroner’s office has not yet located next of kin, so the name was not available for release.

Update, Feb. 9, 1:50 p.m. A representative from the Alameda County coroner’s office confirmed that the man who died has been identified, but next of kin has not been notified, so the name is not yet available for public release.

Update, Feb. 8, 3:30 p.m. An Amtrak representative said there were no injuries to the train’s 101 passengers or crew.

Update, 1:50 p.m. Union Pacific spokesman Francisco Castillo confirmed that the train struck a man near Bancroft and Fourth Street shortly before noon. Castillo described the pedestrian as “an adult male trespasser” who was trying to cross the tracks when he was hit. The train was going approximately 20-30 mph. The incident is under investigation.

“The safety message here is that pedestrians, bicycles and cars need to be very aware of the hazards associated with trains and should never be on the train tracks or attempt to cross one without following the proper signs,” Castillo said by email. He said Amtrak might have additional information.

Update, 1:05 p.m. According to the Berkeley Fire Department, a man has died after being hit by a southbound Amtrak train near Bancroft Way and Second Street in West Berkeley. He was declared dead at the scene by fire personnel, said Donna McCracken, Berkeley’s interim deputy fire chief. The incident is now under investigation by railroad authorities.

Original 12:54 p.m. Authorities are responding to West Berkeley following a report that a person was struck by a Union Pacific train between Allston Way and Bancroft Way. … Continue reading »

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Update: Person dies after being struck by BART train; North Berkeley station re-opens

Mary Kuntz-Cote
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UPDATES: At 3:30 p.m. the North Berkeley BART station has now reopened. Expect delays of up to 20 minutes on the Fremont and Richmond lines. At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday BART confirmed that a person died after being struck by a train shortly after it had left North Berkeley BART station heading to Richmond. The initial report came in at 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, according to BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost. At 3 p.m. BART confirmed the coroner was on scene and the station remained closed. As only select trains are going through the station on a single track, some riders are being asked to disembark at MacArthur station to take another train.

Original story, 2:23 p.m. BART closed the North Berkeley BART station Tuesday afternoon, and passengers were experiencing significant delays on the Richmond line, while the transit agency investigated whether a person was possibly on the tracks. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city worker dies in garbage truck accident

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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[Note: The family of Johnny Tolliver Sr. has released a statement about his death. Scroll to the bottom of this story to read it, along with additional updates.]

The city of Berkeley worker who was pinned by a garbage truck in the Berkeley Hills on Monday has died of his injuries.

Johnny Tolliver Sr., who had worked for Berkeley for 25 years, died Monday, according to Matthai Chakko, a city spokesman. He was 52.

“This is obviously an incredibly sad day for the staff involved and the city as a whole,” said Chakko. “We want to be a support to his family and his co-workers.”

Berkeley has lowered its flags to half-staff in Tolliver’s honor, he said.

Tolliver’s death while on duty may be the first for a city worker who is not a police officer or firefighter, or at least the first in a long, long time, said Chakko. … Continue reading »

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Police

Woman dies in suicide near Berkeley’s Old City Hall

Old City Hall. Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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Update, Jan. 8, 6:20 p.m. The woman was identified as Shelley Bergum, 63, of Berkeley.

Update, 5:40 p.m. The woman has succumbed to her injuries, authorities report. She was in her 60s, and police are in contact with her family. Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said authorities will not be releasing the woman’s name at this time.

Coats said, initially, an officer heard the gunshot and found the woman.

“Numerous officers rushed to the scene upon hearing the radio broadcast, including a Special Response Team medic,” Coats said. “Several officers worked providing her first aid until they were relieved by Berkeley Fire Department Paramedics.”

City Mobile Crisis Team members were also called to the scene to provide support to a witness of the incident.  … Continue reading »

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Man killed in fire after Berkeley firefighters were blocked from entering because house was crammed with stuff

A Berkeley man was killed in a fire on Acton Street on Dec. 27. Photo: Lee Fenyves
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A 78-year-old Berkeley man was killed in a fire Sunday morning and he might have died because he hoarded so much stuff that firefighters could not enter his home, according to officials.

The Fire Department was notified of a blaze in a home at 2817 Acton St. between Oregon and Russell streets at 4:47 a.m. on Dec. 27, according to Interim Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken. Flames were shooting out of the home’s windows when firefighters arrived at the scene.

The Fire Department received word that a person was still in the building.

“Fire Department personnel went into ‘rescue mode’ with the intent to enter, rapidly search and remove any victims they can locate,” McCracken wrote in an email. “However, crews were blocked from entering the building by excessive storage throughout the home, including up against the doors. Crews were eventually able to enter after much effort and locate the victim, who had perished.”

The man was Billy Carroll, according to the Alameda County coroner’s office.

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