Notre Dame Settles In Declan Sullivan Case

Notre Dame will pay $42,000 to settle the university's case with IOSHA regarding the death of student videographer Declan Sullivan, who died in a fall from a scissor lift while filming a Fighting Irish football practice.

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Declan Sullivan Investigation: Notre Dame Contests OSHA Ruling

In a move sure to do nothing to improve their standing in the public eye following the death of student football videographer Declan Sullivan last fall, Notre Dame is contesting an Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruling handed down in March that detailed multiple instances of irresponsible safety practices. University and OSHA officials speaking to the Chicago Tribune characterize this development as a benign move on the part of the school: 

"Notre Dame really is trying to live up to the things they said in the media," [IOSHA spokeswoman Stephanie] McFarland said. "They want to make sure something like this never happens again."

A university spokesman said the short timelines imposed by state statute required Notre Dame to formally contest the ruling so the two sides could continue talking. He declined to comment on the specific discussions, but agreed they had been positive.

Perhaps, in the intervening time, the university's been able to get its story straight. Recall the inconsistencies revealed in the documentation of the case between what Notre Dame told investigators and what was contained in the school's own written records. 

The university is currently facing a $77,500 fine for six levied OSHA violations. 

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Notre Dame Fined $77,500 In Declan Sullivan Death

The investigation into the death of Notre Dame student videographer Declan Sullivan by Indiana's Occupational Health and Safety Administration has wrapped, and the agency has announced it will fine the university $77,500 for various workplace safety violations. Sullivan, 20, died last October when high winds knocked over the hydraulic lift he was standing on to film a Fighting Irish football practice.

The university was hit with six violations in all, including "knowingly exposing its employees to unsafe conditions," (Sullivan was filming during a National Weather Service high wind advisory), and the statement from OSHA, as you might expect, is a grave one:

Notre Dame did not establish and maintain conditions of work that were reasonably safe for its employees that were free from recognized hazards that caused or were likely to cause death or serious injury.

Notre Dame has banned the use of scissor lifts for videographers' use, and will use remote-controlled cameras to film practices in the future.

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Declan Sullivan Remembered At Notre Dame

As Notre Dame football prepares to face Tulsa, the Fighting Irish family remembers Declan Sullivan, the student videographer who died Wednesday while filming practice. The university held a special Mass honoring Sullivan Thursday, and has canceled a previously scheduled pep rally. Notre Dame's president, who conducted the Mass, spoke to reporters about the campus' loss:

"There is no greater sadness for a university community than the death of one of its students," Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon. "There is certainly no greater sadness for a family than the loss of a son or brother. It is with a sense of that double sadness that, on behalf our university, I express our deepest condolences to Declan’s family, friends and classmates."

The Observer, the student newspaper to which Sullivan contributed, has also published a special remembrance section in his honor, with stories from classmates, photos, accolades from coworkers, and a collection of his work at the paper. You can view the entire section in .pdf form on the Observer's website.

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Notre Dame Student Declan Sullivan Dies In Tower Accident, Investigation Ongoing

During Notre Dame's football practice on Wednesday, a film tower toppled over and came crashing to the ground, killing Declan Sulliavan, a junior at the university. He was 20 years old.

Sullivan, originally from Long Grove, IL, was atop a hydraulic scissorlift, filming the football practice as a videographer for the Department of Athletics, when the tower fell, around 4:50 P.M. He was taken to South Bend's Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

Sullivan was  double majoring in marketing and Film, Television & Theatre, and was also an contributor to the Scene section of The Observer, an independent Notre Dame student newspaper.  

University President Fr. John Jenkins notified the students at Notre Dame in an e-mail Wednesday night.

"No words can convey the shock and grief we all are experiencing. Declan was a well-liked, bright and enthusiastic film and marketing student and a valued member of the Notre Dame family. His death is a tremendous loss that will be felt very deeply and we share in your grief during this incredibly difficult time."

An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the accident, though it is seemingly apparent that it was caused by wind gusts that exceeded 50 mph on Wednesday (weather conditions similar to those that forced the Notre Dame football team to practice indoors on Tuesday). Sullivan himself was wary of the strong winds, and expressed those fears with truly eerie updates to Twitter shortly before the accident.

It's estimated that the tower was roughly 50 feet above the ground before tipping over. The South Bend Tribune reports that according to a local meteorologist, "the highest winds of the day occurred just before 5 P.M." At that time the highest sustained wind was just under 40 mph, with the peak gust at 53 mph. Various websites of both manufacturers and distributors of similar towers warn against its use in windy conditions, with one in particular stating "that the lift should never be used in wind speeds greater than 25 mph."

Those who knew Sullivan remembered him as enthusiastic and fun-loving. 

Junior Marc Anthony Rosa, who was a friend of Sullivan, said describing Sullivan was an "impossible task."

"He's an unbelievably unique soul that, when you meet him, he's completely addicting to be around. He's nonstop energy. He's like no one else you've ever met," he said. "Although he may not be here, his soul is impossible to leave this campus and the people who've known him."

There is a media briefing at 2 P.M. ET on Thursday, where University vice president for public affairs and communication Jan Botz, University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and University athletics director Jack Swarbrick will speak.

The school has planned a Mass of remembrance for Sullivan, to be held Thursday at 10 P.M., in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. 

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