BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — There was an emotional remembrance at UC Berkeley Thursday in remembrance of five people with university ties who were among the 36 killed in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland over the weekend.
University of California at Berkeley students and staff held a vigil for the victims of the fire.
The victims with ties to the university were current students Vanessa Plotkin and Jenny Morris, recent alumni Griffin Madden and David Cline, and a volunteer DJ at campus radio station KALX, Chelsea Faith Dolan.
Students gathered in a light rain in Sproul Plaza at noon.
“We send our prayers, condolences and support to the families and loved ones of these cherished individuals — our friends and colleagues,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a letter to the campus community
“We also know that many of our campus community members had strong ties of family or friendship to other victims,” he said.
Those killed were all attending an electronic music dance party at the warehouse that night.
Plotkin, 21, and Morris, 20, were undergraduate roommates who had gone to the show together. Plotkin was from Lakewood, California and was majoring in sociology. Morris was from Foster City and had studied at UC Santa Cruz this year.
Both worked as volunteers at KALX as well.
Dolan, 33, lived in Marin County and was a DJ who made music under the name Cherushii who was scheduled to perform at the event that night.
Friends and family remembered her for her effervescent personality and colorful outfits.
The two alumni both graduated in May 2015. Cline, 24, had graduated with degrees in computer science and cognitive science. Madden, 23, graduated with degrees in philosophy and Slavic language and literature. He
was also an employee at Cal Performances.
Madden’s girlfriend drew attention when she posted a plea to Facebook for a photo of a kiss she and Madden had shared in New York City last year.
The photographer had showed them the snap, but didn’t give them a copy, and after his death she thought somehow she could track it down.
She was right. She posted the photo in a follow-up post, and wrote, “I can still feel the rush of life from that very moment. The lights filled my heart with excitement; the massive number of people energized every fiber of my being. And right beside me was my best friend, my brightest love.”
Parents of the victims arrived at the vigil Thursday to honor their lost children and others jotted down messages on posters set aside inside Zellerbach Hall.
The students who died were all musicians, music lovers or involved in the arts community.
One by one, family members took the stage to share stories.
Jenny Morris loved to sing and traveled with her church youth group.
Her father Michael Morris said, “We were so blessed to have Jenny for 21 years…She was so precious to us.There’s a part of our hearts that is missing today.”
Her brother Chris Morris said, “It still doesn’t really seem real to me. You know, we just saw her last week for Thanksgiving. I’m really, really grateful that we were able to spend that time together.”
Griffin Madden’s father told the crowd his family has no regrets because they regularly and routinely told each other how they loved one another.
He also told the story of Griffin’s least favorite cliché.
“One that seemed to bother him the most was YOLO, You Only Live Once. That just didn’t sit straight with Griffin. It troubled him, so he came up with his own acronym, which is striking at this moment, which was You Only Live Forever.”
Vanessa Plotkin’s father remembered his 21-year-old daughter as someone who “glowed.”
Her mother, Valerie Plotkin, said she was at home at UC Berkeley.
“My daughter Vanessa radiated beauty and joy, and love, and kindness. And that’s the message she would like us to impart from this tragedy,” Valerie Plotkin said.
All the students lost were described as “exceptional” and “bright lights”.
One speaker said, in the face of unspeakable loss, we have an obligation to honor their memories.
All of the victims killed in the fire have been identified. Search and rescue crews finished searching the building on Wednesday morning after finding 36 bodies inside.
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