Notre Dame student killed after video tower collapses during football practice

Mar 26, 2010 - South Bend, Indiana, USA - University of Notre Dame football players gather in a huddle Friday during the first spring practice as head coach Brian Kelly officially takes over after Charlie Weis was fired last fall.

In tragic news, a Notre Dame student who had been videotaping a football practice was killed after the tower he was standing on collapsed due to a strong gust of wind.

From FOX Sports.com:

Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., died Wednesday at a South Bend hospital after the hydraulic scissor lift he was on fell over at the LaBar practice complex. Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick promised there would be a full investigation, but did not say who was responsible for allowing the student to use the lift.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since the accident, Swarbrick described a normal practice that quickly became chaotic on Wednesday. He said he was walking along the football field when suddenly, the wind picked up and equipment began flying.

Swarbrick said training staff, medical trainers, coaches, players responded to Sullivan, but after emergency workers arrived, the team went back to the field so the rescuers could help the student. Sullivan was taken to a South Bend hospital, but Swarbrick said he received a call from the ambulance before it arrived that Sullivan was no longer breathing.

The National Weather Service said winds in the area were gusting to 51 mph at the time when the hydraulic scissor lift, which can be lowered or raised depending on needs, fell over. The football team had practiced indoors the day before because of the blustery conditions caused by a fierce storm.

It was not clear specifically who authorized Sullivan to go up in the scissor lift to videotape Wednesday’s practice, but Swarbrick said it was the decision to practice outside was left up to individual programs at the university. As a student worker, Sullivan reported to a video coordinator associated with the team.

According to the article, many media outlets reported that Sullivan sent out a tweet shortly before practice that said, “Gusts of wind up to 60 mph. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I’ve lived long enough.”

Why was he up on the tower in the first place? If everyone knew the winds were that bad, then why didn’t someone think not to allow him to go up there? It just doesn’t make any sense and it’s sad that such a tragic accident could have been avoided had someone used their head. Obviously they were worried enough about the winds the day before that they had the football team practice inside, yet they didn’t think to keep the students off these towers with wind gusts of 60mph? Talk about irresponsibility.

My thoughts go out to Sullivan’s family and friends.

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