Tragedy strikes Notre Dame athletics

Tragedy struck college football last Wednesday.  Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old student worker in the Notre Dame video production department was killed after the scissor lift, from which he was filming the Notre Dame football practice, collapsed.

My question for the University of Notre Dame and its athletic department is why was Sullivan allowed to go up in the scissor lift to film practice in the first place?

All last week the Midwest was facing high wind warnings.  Often times, these winds had gusts recorded up to 60 miles per hour.  Some scissor lift manufacturers make lifts that can stand winds of up to 25 mph, according to W. Jon Wallace, a safety consultant from Chapel Hill, N.C. Wallace does not recommend using scissors lifts in winds of up to 10 mph.

According to, Penn State and University of Michigan grounds their scissor lifts if winds reach over 28 mph.

The day before the accident, the Notre Dame football team practiced indoors due to the weather.  The next day, conditions were the same but it was decided that Notre Dame could have a productive day.

So why was Declan cleared to use the lift?  In many reports, the Notre Dame athletic director was reported to be at the practice.  Did he not see the two lifts in use?

Sullivan tweeted twice during the practice.  In his first tweet he said, “Winds up 60 mph, today should be fun at work.  I guess I’ve lived long enough.”  On his second tweet at 4:06 p.m. he said, “Holy f—, holy f—, this is terrifying.”

At about 4:50 p.m., the tower collapsed and Declan Sullivan was pronounced dead at a South Bend, Ind. hospital.

Sullivan was honored at the Irish’s game on Saturday against Tulsa and the university held a mass in his honor earlier in the week.

Last week, the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the accident, which could result in fines levied on the university. Currently, there are not any fines or charges in place against the university.


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