Notre Dame Student Dies Taping Football Practice

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Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old at Notre Dame college, fell to his death after 50 mph winds collapsed the hydraulic lift tower where he had been taping the school's football practice, for which he was a student manager. At least, that's what the story is so far: the government is investigating the details of the student's death, as well as to why the Fighting Irish team had been outdoors that day to begin with, when similar weather conditions forced them to practice indoors the day before.

Adding to the tragedy around this case are the final twitter messages of the student, which read “Guess I've lived long enough” and “Holy shit holy shit this is terrifying”:

As to be expected, the blame buck is being passed around, with alternate finger-pointing at the lift manufacturer (which says on its website not to use its machinery in winds over 28-mph), the football team's captain Brian Kelly for allowing the taping to take place, or the entire school. Says one commenter on the IrishEnvy blog forum:

whoever was responsible for making the decision to have Declan Sullivan in that lift filming yesterday should be fired, without question. i am absolutely dumfounded. winds yesterday were well in excess of any safe levels, such that any reasonable person would never have considered putting anyone up there.

no doubt the university will be, and should be, held legally responsible…..and anyone stupid enough to have made that decision which directly lead to that students death should no longer be employed at ND.

Another response:

I don't know that I necessarily agree. Both from a legal and moral standpoint. If Mr. Sullivian voiced his concern to an ND employee, who instructed him to enter the tower notwithstanding the wind, then I agree. Or, if Wednesday afternoon an ND employee specifically instructed him to film the team, then I also agree. But I'm wondering whether such employee exists. Given the area there may be adverse weather practice protocol that someone reviews, but there might not be. And it's likely Mr. Sullivan raised his safety concerns to a superior, but it's possible he didn't.

But casting blame aside, this is a truly tragic affair, and the matter needs to be investigated to ensure it never happens again. As Notre Dame's president Rev. John Jenkins said in his official remarks yesterday, “Our hearts go out to the student's family and friends and our prayers and profound sympathies are with them during this incredibly difficult time. The loss of someone so young is a terrible shock and a great sadness. Our entire community shares in the family's grief.” The Fighting Irish will go on to play against Tulsa on Saturday.