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County D.A. considering charges in fatal balcony collapse at Berkeley structure that Pleasanton firm built

Rotted support beam blamed in June 16 accident that killed 6

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said Thursday that involuntary manslaughter charges could result from a criminal investigation into the balcony collapse in downtown Berkeley June 16 that killed six people and injured seven others.

Segue Construction, Inc., a Pleasanton-based construction company has been identified as the contractor of the Berkeley apartment complex. Following the collapse, Berkeley city inspectors ordered a second balcony removed at the downtown Berkeley's Library Gardens apartments at 2020 Kittredge St., declaring it, too, was structurally weak.

Two other balconies at the 176-unit complex have been red-tagged, which means that access to them is prohibited while they are scrutinized.

Segue Construction is headquartered at 7139 Koll Center Parkway. Previously based in Richmond, it has built more than 6,000 multifamily units in the Bay Area since the company formed in 1992. It has about 30 employees.

O'Malley said her office's probe into the collapse of the fourth-floor balcony during a party at Library Gardens apartment is just getting started so it is far too early to know what it will find.

Of the six people killed, five were Irish nationals -- Olivia Burke, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster, Lorcan Miller and Eimear Walsh. The sixth victim was 22-year-old Rohnert Park resident Ashley Donohoe.

Speaking at a crowded news conference in her office, O'Malley promised that her office will conduct "a through and exhaustive

investigation" and "look at every aspect from every angle," but said she won't file charges if there's not enough evidence to support them.

"We will find out if there are facts that support criminal charges and if they can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law," O'Malley said.

Alameda County's top prosecutor declined to be specific about the targets of her investigation, such as whether it includes the people and businesses who built, owned, managed or maintained the apartment complex.

But O'Malley said a key focus of the investigation is whether there was criminal negligence by those responsible for the building.

She said factors the probe will look at are whether there was more than ordinary carelessness, inattention and lack of judgment and whether those factors created a high risk of death or great bodily injury.

A civil prosecution on consumer protection issues is also possible if the investigation doesn't produce enough evidence for a criminal prosecution, O'Malley said.

Berkeley city officials said on Tuesday that their investigation found that the balcony was supported by wooden beams that had been badly rotted by water damage.

The city's investigation didn't consider potential criminal negligence and instead focused on regulatory reforms such as imposing more stringent requirements for building and inspecting outdoor balconies.

O'Malley said the statute of limitation for involuntary manslaughter is three years so her office theoretically has that amount of time to finish its probe and bring charges.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

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