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Notre Dame tragedy cries out for answers

I haven’t felt completely right since learning about the death of Declan Sullivan, the 20-year-old Notre Dame student who died Wednesday when the tower from which he was filming football practice collapsed in 50-mile-per-hour winds.

Maybe it’s because of the Twitter messages describing his situation.  Maybe it’s because my son is only six years younger than Sullivan.  Or maybe it’s just because a family will be forever changed because of the likelihood that at least one adult in a position to realize the risks didn’t intervene. 

The guys at CFT have been following the story closely, including the news that OSHA is investigating the situation.

And that’s good.  Sullivan’s passing was entirely preventable, and someone needs to be held accountable for not having the sense to keep him from assuming that perilous post on Wednesday.

It’s definitely not Sullivan’s fault.  He was 20.  Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death.  They’re thinking about doing cool things, like filming football practice at Notre Dame.

We suspect there’s much more to this story, and we hope that OSHA or whoever gets to the bottom of it.  This needs to be a big story, if for no reason other than it could ensure the grown-ups on college campuses always remember that, even though most of the students look like grown-ups too, they still need to be protected at times.

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92 Responses to “Notre Dame tragedy cries out for answers”
  1. Facts Domino says: Oct 28, 2010 9:43 PM

    RIP to Declan, but this situation should have never occurred.
    A school that receives as much money from NBC and undeserved BCS births should have sturdy permanent film towers in place, so that the need for a lift of this kind isn’t even thought about. You would think that would be the case in the upper echelon’s of college football, and even though their record doesn’t support it, Notre Dame still portrays itself as being among the elite in college football.
    I feel for his family and friends.

  2. ercin13 says: Oct 28, 2010 9:44 PM

    booooooooooooooooooo to who ever was in charge of this

  3. ArcticEdge says: Oct 28, 2010 9:46 PM

    Notre Dame, just like the Catholic Church, is all about money. They don’t care about the people, just care about keeping them coming, keeping them donating, and keeping their pockets full of cash. And fondling little boys.

  4. American says: Oct 28, 2010 9:51 PM

    The kid should never have been up there. Someone should have had the COMMON SENSE to forbid that kid from going up there.
    Unbelievable. This is absolutely senseless and completely avoidable.

  5. Hayward G says: Oct 28, 2010 9:52 PM

    Horrible story. Maybe I am just too cybical, but I see PFT writing about this tragedy and ask the following:
    Since this does not involve any of the 32 NFL teams, and in really has very little with football, why are you compelled to mention this? Is it because of PFT’s relationship with NBC and NBC’s agreement with Notre Dame?
    Would this be as noteworthy if it had happened at Washington State or Akron or Alcorn State? Just wondering…

  6. PurpleJesus says: Oct 28, 2010 10:10 PM

    What does this have to do with pro football?

  7. NoKoolaidCowboy says: Oct 28, 2010 10:10 PM

    Tragic. But this type of machinery usually has warning labels on there. You have to familiarize yourself with it.

  8. PFT_Anonymous says: Oct 28, 2010 10:16 PM

    Typically, I only comment when you write something ludicrous, but you are right on the mark here.

  9. BigBear123 says: Oct 28, 2010 10:17 PM

    Only “licensed personnel” should be allowed to use those lifts. Licensing is a basic training course that covers operation and safety issues. This might vary by state or job site, but should be a definite at a prestigious college. Most equipment rental companies due the licensing course routinely and at a low cost.
    It has not been revealed whether he was licensed or not, but allowing him to operate it without being licensed is another big jab against ND.
    Aside from why he was allowed to operate it at all in those conditions is another multi-million dollar question.
    Why was ND practicing outside with wind gusts of up to 50 mph anyways when they have a indoor facility?
    The articles keep saying there is no current standard in relation to colleges and equipment use. OSHA standards cover that since the operators are essentially employees of the college. A lot of companies do go above and beyond OSHA guidelines, but it is a moot point when the minimum guidelines are not being followed.
    There were so many rules/guidelines that had to be ignored for this to happen that it is a joke.

  10. Rick says: Oct 28, 2010 10:23 PM

    “It’s definitely not Sullivan’s fault. He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death. They’re thinking about doing cool things, like filming football practice at Notre Dame.”
    I served with kids who were only 19 and 20 and trusted them with my life. Kids who don’t attend college have jobs at 20 that are dangerous and don’t need someone to watch over them. Maybe some of the blame does belong with him, being in college is no excuse to shirk responsibilities.

  11. BSPN says: Oct 28, 2010 10:28 PM

    …”He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death. They’re thinking about doing cool things…”
    ————————————————–
    Yeah, sure, whatever Florio. I guess the brave young men and women who are 20 years old and serving in Iraq or Afghanistan aren’t thinking about life and death either.

  12. footballrulz says: Oct 28, 2010 10:39 PM

    @ ArcticEdge
    Not trying to play judge here,but as biased as most of your posts are, and as idiotic as this one is, I think you have a special place in hell. Think about that dude, very seriously, and strongly consider how amazingly stupid you look to other posters on here.
    Serioulsy, life comes to an end..Is hell worth a few really stupid posts?
    Doubt this ever makes it through the moderators but you really soundlike early Contra and that moron Gravy. Sure that’s not you? I mean sometimes the “tells” are just so obvious. Do you even know what a”tell” means?
    Highly doubtful.

  13. Blackn'Gold says: Oct 28, 2010 10:40 PM

    What a tragedy! Totally preventable. Was the people practicing so focused on the task they were unaware of the weather conditions? Someone had to see that lift swaying back and forth.
    What if it was a tornado? Would they just wait till it passes?

  14. Tdk24 says: Oct 28, 2010 10:42 PM

    Seen same lifts at NFL camps.

  15. go_ninja_go says: Oct 28, 2010 10:50 PM

    Why wasn’t there a harness? Isn’t that OSHA rule #1? I have a brother in law who is a mason, and if they off the ground at all, they need to be harnessed in. This is bad. I hope someone catches hell for this.

  16. fleet10 says: Oct 28, 2010 10:59 PM

    Hayward G, let me take a crack at it……………
    First, and foremost, Florio is a lawyer. Only a lawyer would write………….
    “We suspect there’s much more to this story, and we hope that OSHA or whoever gets to the bottom of it. This needs to be a big story, if for no reason other than it could ensure the grown-ups on college campuses always remember that, even though most of the students look like grown-ups too, they still need to be protected at times.”
    That’s “lawyer-speak” for – an accident has occurred, and a life was lost, and no matter what of anything won’t bring that boy back, but someone better damn well pay through the nose!! (with my proportionate lawyer fee attached of course!!)
    Second, Florio is paid to maintain website traffic. That means any polarizing figure (Brett Favre, the Steelers, any athlete involved in any type of scandal or criminal trouble) bumps the hell out of said traffic, including message board posts. This means (and we’ve all seen them) the more times he can throw Farve into a story, he’s almost guaranteed X-amount of “F Brett Favre” posts. Same exact thing here. My guess is, within 24 hours, you’ll have approximately 130-150 posts on this story, most simply expressing condolences. Did Florio write this out of sympathy, as he’d have you believe? No. Quota and $$$$.
    And finally, Florio is a tool. He would like us all to pretend to not know the truth about his little agreement with NBC. The fact is, this isn’t about pro football anymore. It’s about gossip. Gossip barely touching NFL football. My Browns beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints last week, and there were (yes, I counted out of disgust), 3.7 stories about Jenn Sterger (?), also known as money-grubbing whore, than there were about the Browns or Saints. You know, football teams, that play football, in the national FOOTBALL league.
    The f’ing internet is everywhere. Why in the world would you only attempt to cater to Randy Moss fans, or Brett Favre haters? I’d call it stupid, but to expect anything other than this type of gluttonous behavior out of a lawyer would simply be foolish on my part.
    R.I.P. Declan Sullivan

  17. DoomsDayD75 says: Oct 28, 2010 11:02 PM

    Hey guys… 19 and 20 year old kids dying in wars isn’t ok either… not sure why you would think it is.
    Someone at Notre Dame should be held accountable though. There is no reason in the world for that kid to be up there filming in those conditions.

  18. realitypolice says: Oct 28, 2010 11:05 PM

    Tdk24 says:
    October 28, 2010 10:42 PM
    Seen same lifts at NFL camps.
    ===========
    So what? There is nothing wrong with these lifts if used properly. This lift was most likely made by JLG, as they are the most popular company.
    JLG specifies in all of their literature that the lifts are not to be used in winds over 25 mph.
    Legal liability here is perfectly clear. Whether or not the kid should have refused to get in the lift is irrelevant. If a worker on a construction site gets in a lift in unsafe conditions, the company he works for is still liable.
    In this case, Notre Dame will have full liability exposure. And it will cost them dearly.
    And it should.

  19. krazykjun says: Oct 28, 2010 11:06 PM

    it always amazes me how stupid some comments can be when an idiot is using an alias … all that should be said is RIP to this young man and condolences to his family.

  20. ArcticEdge says: Oct 28, 2010 11:07 PM

    @ footballrulz
    I’m sorry that you can’t see or understand the truth about the Catholic Church. They are the largest and oldest business in the world, and yes, they are a business.
    What happened to Sullivan is a tragedy. My condolences to his family and friends.

  21. BuckyBadger says: Oct 28, 2010 11:07 PM

    This is an awful tragedy as nothing will bring this young man back.
    Also think you can’t say “It’s definitely not Sullivan’s fault. He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death.”
    I was 21 when I was in charge of a painting crew which used this very equipment. There is personal responsibility and anyone who uses this equipment needs to go through training. The training goes over the OSHA laws and tells the employee to never use the equipment in high winds.
    If someone was responsible for him being up there than they should be fired. Lets not start firing people just because he was 20 years old had he been the supervisor of the film crew and it was his call to up there.

  22. StiffArm37 says: Oct 28, 2010 11:12 PM

    Thank you Captain Hindsight!

  23. cunn9305 says: Oct 28, 2010 11:19 PM

    We have a saying in the medical field when there’s a major screwup like this … it’s called ……. ” just write the check” …

  24. lionswin says: Oct 28, 2010 11:41 PM

    Brian Kelly is a coach that does not care about anything other than winning. I have seen this coach screw people over at his days in Grand Valley because he does not care about them. He is a terrible coach and is the one that should be held responsible.

  25. Lance19 says: Oct 28, 2010 11:42 PM

    I’m the only person I know who has actually
    purchased a hand held anemometer so I
    could get some sense of wind speeds.
    30 mph is intense. I would never consider
    puting someone go up on a device like that
    in 30, never mind 50. It’s really insane.

  26. Bubby Brister says: Oct 28, 2010 11:52 PM

    “What does this have to do with pro football?”
    (and the guy before him who said something similar)
    Are you kidding me? God forbid somebody interrupts your stream of Brett Favre stories with something heartfelt. Un. Real. I can see complaining about some of the posts on this site that scrape the bottom of the barrel just so they can have something to post, but Florio using a post to give his condolences and you have a PROBLEM with it? Skip the freaking article if it’s that much of a burden on you. I’m so sick of the world thinking everything is supposed to cater to them specifically and blow a gasket when it doesn’t. This is probably a new all-time low in that regard.
    And to Florio, I agree that this isn’t the kid’s fault and everything, but you’re talking about him like he was a 5-year-old. I’m sure he had common sense, but you can’t predict something like this. Especially if somebody told him that the structure would be able to withstand the weather. You’re right, though — somebody needs to get to the bottom of this and someone or some people need held accountable, because it never should have happened.

  27. Brad says: Oct 29, 2010 12:04 AM

    Sad as hell, but posts like this don’t do much for your reputation as ND homers. It simply has nothing to do with pro football. Maybe you should get back to bashing Michigan grads or something.

  28. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says: Oct 29, 2010 12:08 AM

    Rest easy kid.

  29. Meldog says: Oct 29, 2010 12:14 AM

    Where is captain hindsight when you need him? How are we to know what could have been done to prevent this without his incredible hindsight?
    C’mon, nobody is to blame. No one expected the thing to tip over. It’s a tragedy and I would hate to be that kids parents right now. But this was an accident and to assume that someone should be held accountable is just a bunch of lawyer-talk.
    Name a building in the sports or journalism dept. after him. Let his family speak at a game if they want to. But don’t set this thing up so some prick lawyer can make a fortune off of the families misery.

  30. Clay Allison says: Oct 29, 2010 12:16 AM

    20 year-old young men and women are not kids. They are adults.
    It’s an insult to the young man who took an unnecessary and ultimately fatal risk to pretend he was an infant who should have been in his car seat.
    Staying in school doesn’t mean you remain a child while people your age are working jobs, raising children, and fighting overseas.

  31. hrmlss says: Oct 29, 2010 12:49 AM

    Ok every team has filming towers. ND didn’t fasten their’s down and will pay millions, as they should. When the weather report says a possibility of 60 mph winds I take down my patio umbrella and put away light items in the back yard. My buddy teaches physics at ND as a prof and I know he can figure out like ND’s weather people that you should not be up in a portable tower in a 60 mph windstorm, unless you are in the SEC. Then you pray to Tebow and film away……;.

  32. The Fighting Wombat says: Oct 29, 2010 12:55 AM

    It’s definitely not Sullivan’s fault. He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death. They’re thinking about doing cool things, like filming football practice at Notre Dame.
    Nothing “cool” about going house to house in Iraq or Afghanistan, Mike. I’m assuming that you’ve never served in the military, but doing MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain) is not a “thrill” – it’s nothing like a video game that your kids might be playing (I did it as a 30-something adult, and again in my mid 40’s, before I retired)…think before you type, Mike.
    There should have been someone with some common sense there making a common sense decision not to use the lift…and it cost a young man his young life.

  33. sbilyeu5 says: Oct 29, 2010 1:15 AM

    You are Crazy Florio Im so tired of your biased remarks and you are using some tragic death to try and make a point.
    The Kid really you mean the man is 20 years old and he is old enough to make his own decisions. Do you not know that that people are tried as adults at the age 12 and maybe even younger( I haven’t studied ever case ever.) No one was forcing him to get up there on the extension tower he did it because that was his job and it was great job that about a hundred other 20 yr olds would dream of.
    People at the age of 18 go fight for our Country. Would you consider them kids? So would you hold a 40 Colonel accountable if he put your son on a mission in and Iraq or Afghanistan and your son Died while walking to a Humvee and accidently gets hit another Humvee driving by. You would proby try and sue that colonel. Florio you are from the United States of America I assume, because in most other countries the stupid stuff/biased( I meant Sh@#!) you say would get you wiped or put in jail.
    You said someone needs to be held accountable and that is ridiculous. It was accident and a tragic one at that.
    You need to be accountable for what you say and the way you say things, I would love to have a face to face meeting with just so I could prove how stupid you sound.
    By the way the only reason people come visit your site is because of the rumors not because your site is informative. And stop hating on espn just because they wouldn’t hire you.

  34. rammmm says: Oct 29, 2010 1:15 AM

    It makes me think about a friend who died when we were freshmen at Vanderbilt in 1974- he was walking across a parking lot and a Co2 tank blew and suffocated him. I still think of him from time to time. My prayers are with his family.

  35. favreslegacy says: Oct 29, 2010 1:39 AM

    I was the film kid for 2 years at the university of south dakota. It was windy as hell and every day I was scared to go up. But it was a dream job and if I didnt do it then they would have found someone else in a second, plus in a football practice / coaching office, where you spend alot of time, complaining or saying you are scared of wind makes you look like a pusy. So if I wanted to keep the job, which i loved, then you suck it up and get ur ass on the lift and do ur job. This kid knew the risks and he did it anyway, I know that because I knew the risks and did it anyway. God bless him, but like him or me or any other film kid on a college team will tell you, he would do it again in a second.

  36. diesel says: Oct 29, 2010 1:41 AM

    They kept practicing?!?!?!?!? so a 20 year old kid dies and they resumed the final 4o mins of practice. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  37. syge says: Oct 29, 2010 1:46 AM

    “I haven’t felt completely right since learning about the death of Declan Sullivan, the 20-year-old Notre Dame student who died Wednesday when the tower from which he was filming football practice collapsed in 50-mile-per-hour winds.”
    I haven’t either, and I don’t know why.

  38. WilliamWallace says: Oct 29, 2010 1:52 AM

    @ArcticEdge,
    I will play judge. If ever our paths cross, it would be quite the dust up. You sir, are a buffoon. Scumbag.

  39. Browning's Nagle says: Oct 29, 2010 1:59 AM

    @ meldog & hrmlss
    Finally, a few rational people that get it… hindsight is a wonderful thing; this was a horrible tragedy; an accident… one which the likes of Florio will try and exploit for readership; the lawyer in him can’t help it!
    And the rest of you clowns… continue to sit on your cloud(s) of judgment… handing down life lessons from behind the veil of a computer screen, like cowards.

  40. east96st says: Oct 29, 2010 2:21 AM

    “20 year-old young men and women are not kids. They are adults.”
    I have been to two funerals of my friends kids who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and two who were killed by drunk drivers right here at home. Once you become a father and watched your kids grow, it’s damn near impossible to bury a 20 year old and NOT feel like you’re at the funeral of a “kid”. It’s NOT disrespecting what these young men and women have done in service to their country, it’s acknowledging that as a middle age man it is painful to see someone killed when their life has only just started to be their own. I’ve bashed Florio hundreds of times, but he meant no disrespect here.

  41. Maximus says: Oct 29, 2010 2:26 AM

    I read that that big storm that passed through the midwest had caused there to be 50 MPH winds there that day.
    No way someone should be allowed up on that tower in those kind of winds.
    Someone’s head should roll for this.

  42. bad asset says: Oct 29, 2010 4:22 AM

    @ ArcticEdge
    That was cold, brother! Stone cold.

  43. pigs on the wing says: Oct 29, 2010 6:16 AM

    It’s always someone else’s fault. Yes the school should have kept him from going up there but what ever happened to personally accountability. 20 year olds should be fully capable of “protecting themselves”. Our military personnel do it every day of their lives, many under the age of 20. Its called common sense and at age 20 he should have had enough of it to decide on his own not to go up in 50 mile per hour winds. Stupid and preventable!

  44. Chris Fiorentino says: Oct 29, 2010 6:18 AM

    “He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death. They’re thinking about doing cool things…”
    I have to say this is a pretty stupid statement, Mike. Without knowing all the facts, you are assuming that somebody demanded he go up into that tower. He is 20 years old. If he was commanded to go up into the tower, then that person and whoever employs that person, should be severely reprimanded. However, this could have just been a case where he wanted to do his job and didn’t have the common sense to stay off the tower in such high winds.
    Obviously, from his tweets, he knew it was dangerous. Why did he go up on the tower to begin with? Again, maybe his boss told him he had to. If so, then by all means, do what you do best, which is rip everyone and everything. But what if he had a choice, and he decided he would go up. He is 20 years old. He is old enough to know right from wrong and old enough to know to stay the !$@%@$# off a 50 foot high tower in 50 mile an hour winds…especially since the warning on the equipment says 25 MPH is the maximum they can withstand.
    I feel for the kid and his family, but maybe this is just a tragic accident that was the fault of nobody except the kid. Maybe not. Unlike you, I won’t generalize and say “”He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death. They’re thinking about doing cool things…””

  45. Big_Bad_Bobby says: Oct 29, 2010 7:15 AM

    Really, it was just some 20 year old college. It doesn’t really matter. AND IT HAS NOTHING to do with the NFL!!

  46. TheCityThatReeds says: Oct 29, 2010 7:20 AM

    Here’s how i think the conversation went at that practice…
    “Coach Kelly, I think it’s pretty windy, we should probably get that cameraman out of the lift.”
    “STFU and get back in there, he’s just a sissy little cameraman, who cares, he’s fine.”

  47. JoeCool16280 says: Oct 29, 2010 7:25 AM

    To all of you complaining about that this isn’t an NFL story…grow up. Sometimes things hit home and tug at your heart.
    Prayers to his family.

  48. ejtowne says: Oct 29, 2010 7:45 AM

    I like the story Florio, but I have a bone to pick with you on one part:
    …”He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death. They’re thinking about doing cool things…”
    How about My 18yo, and two 19yo Cousins, One who is serving in Iraq and the other two in Afghanistan who are dodging bullets instead of linebackers, looking through their rifle scope instead of a camera. Life and death are the only two things they think about. I don’t mean to be a prick but, that comment hit close to home.

  49. LowVoltage says: Oct 29, 2010 7:51 AM

    This has nothing to do with pro football. Nothing. But then again, most of what is wriiten on this site has little to do withthe ‘mans game’ on the field. This site is mainly about the soap opera that occurs off the field. Opra should be the editor.

  50. spudz says: Oct 29, 2010 7:51 AM

    ArcticEdge says:
    October 28, 2010 9:46 PM
    Notre Dame, just like the Catholic Church, is all about money. They don’t care about the people, just care about keeping them coming, keeping them donating, and keeping their pockets full of cash. And fondling little boys.
    Wow…I could tell by your regular garbage posts that you are an uneducated idiot…but seriously….only an asswipe like you would turn the tragic death of a 20 yer old into a comment regarding the Catholic church.
    Pitiful dude…absolutely pitiful
    RIP Sullivan….

  51. ravenfan820 says: Oct 29, 2010 8:04 AM

    whioever sent that kid into that tower deserves to be at the very least fired….and that includes the headcoach…maybe prosecuted….

  52. jmac1013 says: Oct 29, 2010 8:13 AM

    I agree this is a tragedy. But what ever happened to personal accountability in this country? Whenever something bad happens we immediately look for someone else to blame.
    This person was not a child. He was an adult. If he felt so unsafe then why didn’t he say something to a person instead of tweeting it.

  53. dsmg says: Oct 29, 2010 8:19 AM

    The fault lies with Brian Kelly the head coach. If the deceased student knew the forecast the coach certainly did. ND has a state of the art indoor facility. Ohio St. moved their practice indoors. I have coached High School football for 27 years. Trust me nothing gets accomplished when you are practicing in those conditions. If you have an indoor facility use it.

  54. postulation says: Oct 29, 2010 8:23 AM

    To all those espousing personal responsibility, how do you know he didn’t have a conversation about whether or not he shouldn’t go up in the lift that day? You don’t and neither do I. That’s why there needs to be an investigation.

  55. postulation says: Oct 29, 2010 8:24 AM

    To all those espousing personal responsibility, how do you know he didn’t have a conversation about whether or not he shouldn’t go up in the lift that day? You don’t and neither do I. That’s why there needs to be an investigation.

  56. SDW2001 says: Oct 29, 2010 8:36 AM

    ArcticEdge says:
    October 28, 2010 9:46 PM
    Notre Dame, just like the Catholic Church, is all about money. They don’t care about the people, just care about keeping them coming, keeping them donating, and keeping their pockets full of cash. And fondling little boys.
    —Tell me guys…. why do comments get held for approval if this is the kind of hate-filled trash that gets approved?

  57. TylerDurden says: Oct 29, 2010 8:37 AM

    Clay Allison says:
    October 29, 2010 12:16 AM
    20 year-old young men and women are not kids. They are adults.
    It’s an insult to the young man who took an unnecessary and ultimately fatal risk to pretend he was an infant who should have been in his car seat.
    Staying in school doesn’t mean you remain a child while people your age are working jobs, raising children, and fighting overseas.
    *********************************************
    This.

  58. Mooch says: Oct 29, 2010 8:41 AM

    Scott Boras – who I despise – talked about student-athletes essentially unionizing. I blew it off as a scheme for a lawyer and his ilk to make more money.
    But if this is what happens out there, maybe it is necessary – not only for the athletes, but for the students on the periphery of the team who take great risks with seemingly few protections.
    If so little attention is paid to their lives and well-being at Notre Dame, imagine the standards at the schools without the money, resources and scrutiny of this NBC-fed franchise.
    Just a thought.

  59. HarrisonHits says: Oct 29, 2010 8:45 AM

    It was criminal negligence that the Notre Dame staff allowed anyone up in those lifts with winds that strong.
    Someone should end up in jail and I hope his family gets a vast settlement from the college.

  60. realitypolice says: Oct 29, 2010 8:48 AM

    Meldog says:
    October 29, 2010 12:14 AM
    Where is captain hindsight when you need him? How are we to know what could have been done to prevent this without his incredible hindsight?
    C’mon, nobody is to blame.
    =======================
    Maybe at some point you will decide to do a little research and choose to have an educated opinion. But if you are like most on here, probably not.
    Many of the reports have stated, and you could have easily learned it through basic research, that it is common knowledge that these lifts are not to be used in strong winds. Most manufacturers strongly discourage their use in winds over 25 mph, less than half of what the winds were that day.
    This was a 20 year old kid with a 20 year old kid’s dream job of being part of the football program he grew up idolizing. He was obviously ordered into the lift by his boss. It was clear he didn’t want to.
    You will see as this plays out that the people who matter: OSHA, who will no doubt hit the University with a huge fine, and the courts, will not agree with you that “no one is to blame”.

  61. realitypolice says: Oct 29, 2010 8:50 AM

    go_ninja_go says:
    October 28, 2010 10:50 PM
    Why wasn’t there a harness? Isn’t that OSHA rule #1? I have a brother in law who is a mason, and if they off the ground at all, they need to be harnessed in. This is bad. I hope someone catches hell for this.
    ============
    I don’t think a harness would have helped. The lift collapsed. He didn’t fall out of it.

  62. PFTiswhatitis says: Oct 29, 2010 8:50 AM

    I agree wholeheartedly with your post Mike. And to anyone that thinks 20-year-olds are adults, you either are too old to remember OR do not have kids. As Mike said, they still need to be protected (often from themselves) and that’s stating it nicely. So where were the adults?
    As a side note, many Pro football teams use those same scissor lifts to film their practices. I’d be curious as to regs surrounding their use and if it will change anything now.

  63. Ytsejamer1 says: Oct 29, 2010 8:59 AM

    This is certainly a tragedy that never should have happened. But why does tragedy always have to involve litigation? I mean regardless who is at fault – and IMO there’s probably enough to go around, why do we have to pin it on one source, then insist we have to go after a sum of money?
    Tragedies happen and often for no good reason. Sometimes there aren’t good explanations, sometimes there are…but in the end, it really doesn’t matter. A young man lost his life and the best we can do is wish his family well and hope they are able to get through this awful event.

  64. windawg says: Oct 29, 2010 9:00 AM

    Why in the world have I not heard people calling for Brian Kelly’s head on a platter for this. THE HEAD COACH IS IN CHARGE OF PRACTICE!!! THE BUCK STOPS WITH HIM!!!! HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT TAKES PLACE!!!!
    Could the idiot not have realized that the weather was completely unstable that day in the Midwest???? That kid should have not been allowed to be on that lift. He was in full view of all of the coaches during the practice.
    Although, there is nothing that can ever bring this young man back, I hope his parents sue the hell out of Notre Dame, and personally go after Coach Kelly

  65. realitypolice says: Oct 29, 2010 9:01 AM

    pigs on the wing says:
    October 29, 2010 6:16 AM
    It’s always someone else’s fault. Yes the school should have kept him from going up there but what ever happened to personally accountability. 20 year olds should be fully capable of “protecting themselves”. Our military personnel do it every day of their lives, many under the age of 20. Its called common sense and at age 20 he should have had enough of it to decide on his own not to go up in 50 mile per hour winds. Stupid and preventable!
    =============================
    Yes, and I am sure every time your boss orders you to do something that you don’t want to, you tell him to stick it, right?
    If a 20 year old young man should have had the common sense not to go up in a lift in 50 mph winds, shouldn’t the much older personnel at the school have had the common sense not to let him?
    Listen, as a Libertarian, I am all about personal accountability. But it is not an absolute. A person who gets killed by a drunk driver is not responsible for their own death because they got in a car. There are limits.
    To use your military analogy, if an officer makes a horrible blunder and sends his troops into an ambush, is it the solely the fault of the soldiers if they get killed, with no fault to the officer? Should they have had the “personal accountability” to refuse the order?
    This kid clearly did not want to go up in this lift, and was ordered to so by someone he trusted. That person needs to be held “personally accountable” for his decision, in the face of known dangers (it is highly likely that a warning not to use the equipment in strong winds was printed ON THE LIFT as it usually is), to send that kid to his death.

  66. BostonISaChraphole says: Oct 29, 2010 9:08 AM

    Bottom line is ND is a bad school from top to bottom. The football program is in shambles, but they act like they are national champions year in year out. And that is why this tradgedy occured. Because the coaches and administrators think they are bigger and better and more important. So they sent this bright eyed kid up in the tower to shoot video even though gail force winds were going on.
    This kids family should sue that school for all that it is worth. Fact is ND hasnt been a good program in a long time, and if karma is real god willing they wont recover for many years to come.

  67. steeelfann says: Oct 29, 2010 9:10 AM

    # ArcticEdge says: October 28, 2010 9:46 PM
    Notre Dame, just like the Catholic Church, is all about money. They don’t care about the people, just care about keeping them coming, keeping them donating, and keeping their pockets full of cash. And fondling little boys.
    ———-
    Arctic Edge: You sound just like any other sorry little boy who didn’t get enough attention from Daddy.
    Your attacks on Catholic Church are beyond idiotic, words cannot describe them. Catholic Charities (yes the Catholic Church) gives more the rest of the world than any charity that exists. They raise a ton of money and put it all to great use and they put all their time in as well. For example, they just finished a school in Uganda, and put in running water for the first time. They donated tractors and took people over there to teach the people there how to farm with it and to irrigate. Just one tiny example.
    ArcticEdge, just keep prowling the internet and blaming others. I am sure you have donated all of your time and money to help others. Loser.

  68. Whodey08 says: Oct 29, 2010 9:16 AM

    What I will never understand, figure that there at least 12-15 minimum adults at a major college practice.
    How with that many adults around not one thought ” with the high winds maybe the scissor lift is not a good idea today.”
    I’m just a dumb salesman but even I know you don’t use something w/ a high center of gravity in windy conditions.

  69. allinSTACKme says: Oct 29, 2010 9:23 AM

    go_ninja_go says:
    October 28, 2010 10:50 PM
    Why wasn’t there a harness? Isn’t that OSHA rule #1? I have a brother in law who is a mason, and if they off the ground at all, they need to be harnessed in. This is bad. I hope someone catches hell for this.
    ————————————————–
    Are you seriously that stupid? If you’re in a plane crash, does your seat belt automatically save your life?

  70. SteelTown-6 says: Oct 29, 2010 9:23 AM

    “Sullivan’s passing was entirely preventable, and someone needs to be held accountable for not having the sense to keep him from assuming that perilous post on Wednesday.”
    Sorry Florio, but it’s called “personal responsibility”.
    The kid climbed a tower with 50 MPH winds in the area? And you’re suggesting that it was up to someone else to tell him not to?

  71. ndreece says: Oct 29, 2010 9:37 AM

    Absolutely horrible tragedy and my heart goes out to his family. That being said, why is this a top on PROFOOTBALLTALK.COM? Get off your soapbox, Florio. I can understand the discussion on Inside the Irish or College Football Talk, you know, since those sites address college football.

  72. realitypolice says: Oct 29, 2010 9:37 AM

    Ytsejamer1 says:
    October 29, 2010 8:59 AM
    This is certainly a tragedy that never should have happened. But why does tragedy always have to involve litigation? I mean regardless who is at fault – and IMO there’s probably enough to go around, why do we have to pin it on one source, then insist we have to go after a sum of money?
    ==========================
    No one denies the courts are full of frivolous lawsuits, and too often is about people looking for a payday.
    But tort law is there for a reason. When a large entity like a corporation or a University is proven to have caused terrible harm through their negligence, the court system is the only place to go to get compensated for their loss and the threat of litigation is literally the only deterrent for these entities to operate safely. OSHA fines are typically a fraction of what it would take to get the attention of these people.
    My grandfather worked in a steel mill in the forties and fifties and used to tell me that 10-15 men PER YEAR were killed in his mill, with no penalty to the steel company.
    The Tort system could certainly use some reform, but I’ll take it for what it’s worth. It’s better than the alternative.

  73. Altschul says: Oct 29, 2010 9:47 AM

    If his asinine football-related posts left any doubts about ArcticEdge being the biggest idiot on PFT, he has finally, completely proven himself to be the king of all morons with his comments on this story.
    I hope, sir, for the sake of this world’s future, that you have not yet and never will procreate.

  74. GoTitans says: Oct 29, 2010 9:48 AM

    “Kids” protect our country in much worse conditions.
    RIP, Mr. Sullivan.

  75. GeeBee says: Oct 29, 2010 10:03 AM

    Tragic as hell. But the “down” button was as close as the phone he Twittered on.
    Those things sway like a mother indoors at extension. Not sure what he was expecting in 40-50 mph winds. Sometimes you’ve got to use your own brain.

  76. pwt3d says: Oct 29, 2010 10:31 AM

    God rest his soul, and yes someone from the athletic department should have told him to get down, but if you’re gonna tweet about how scary it is, you should have come down on your own. Have a little common sense.

  77. roboninja says: Oct 29, 2010 11:03 AM

    There is no doubt that this is a tragedy. I feel for this guy’s family, and friends at ND.
    But proclaiming a 20-year-old is a kid that needs protecting? No thanks, young adults are irresponsible enough as it is. The more coddling you give, the more irresponsible they become. You need to cut those apron strings, parents. You are raising people incapable of taking care of themselves.

  78. windawg says: Oct 29, 2010 12:18 PM

    Steeltown wrote:
    “Sorry Florio, but it’s called “personal responsibility”.
    The kid climbed a tower with 50 MPH winds in the area? And you’re suggesting that it was up to someone else to tell him not to?”
    yes, idiot, it was. HE WAS WORKING FOR THE FOOTBALL TEAM!!!!!
    Brian Kelly is in charge of the practice, and should have ordered down any all all filming personnel from the towers!!!! Its not like he was just walking through campus, saw practice going on and decided ” hey, why don’t I get up in the tower and watch for a while?”
    The coaching staff knew he was up there! Its not like the 50 mph gust that took it down was the first giant gust that took place that day! The student was right there for all of them to see. The team witnessed it all happen. Easily preventable if Kelly pulled his head out of his @$$.

  79. Mister Shister says: Oct 29, 2010 2:51 PM

    You can take the lawyer out of ambulance chasing but you can’t take ambulance chasing out of the lawyer.
    Not that this will make it past the censor.

  80. j-wil says: Oct 29, 2010 4:16 PM

    so many cynics chiming in on this…..must be a large philly crowd today.
    Look, for those asking, “what does this have to do with pro football?” Last I checked most NFL players come from some college somewhere….. This is not only about a stupid decision made by multiple people and in the end that means the coach and AD have to bear the brunt. It is more about the culture instilled in these kids at a young age which no doubt carries over to those who make the leap to the NFL.
    Didn’t we just spend two weeks talking about head injuries and the “culture” that lends itself to those injuries? Do you not see a pattern?
    This type of mindset starts well before anyone steps foot on an NFL field. This simply demonstrates it goes beyond players, but anyone affiliated with these programs. Is anyone accountable here? Where does enthusiasm and desire cross the line of sanity?
    20 year old dead filming practice………..we’re talin about practice! The people with blood on their hands, is any person in authority who saw this kid on that lift and did nothing………

  81. JohnnySkamps says: Oct 29, 2010 4:38 PM

    With all the heavy winds in the midwest on that day, I can’t believe that young man was allowed to go up to film practice. When I first heard about this, like most others who live in the midwest and experienced the weather, I was like “What the hell were they thinking”. Totally senseless and tragic. Should never have happened.

  82. ndnationforlife07 says: Oct 29, 2010 4:54 PM

    first, for those asking why ND would have been practicing outdoors i ask you a question:
    do you wait until game time to play in the bad conditions, or do you practice in them so you are ready and prepared for it?
    Second, Declan knew what he was doing..his tweets/posts are clear indicators of this. He could have gotten down, but he didnt. Do any of you honestly believe he would have been punished had he done so? Does anyone even consider that maybe he was just dedicated to his duty and it was just an accident?
    While this is a tragedy for sure, lets remember this was an intelligent, dedicated member of the film team that knew the risks..do any of you knuckle heads even know that there was another student filming in a lift as well at the same time? That didnt tip over, so the theory that this was obvious is rediculous. It was a freak, tragic accident..thats all. No one forced him up there, he was there because he felt he had a job to do and he did it..much like the soldiers overseas, he was serving ND to his best ability.
    Third, i find it interesting that this death has had more articles written about it in 2 days than articles about Danroy Henry’s death by police officers, and that happened almost 2 weeks ago! Gee, i wonder why..could it be because anything to do with painting ND in a bad light is big news to the haters? Im sure. And the lack of articles about Henry’s death, and the amount already written about this, proves that.
    Florio:
    Ill ask you the same thing i asked that idiot over on fox calling for Kelly’s head…if you were assigned to cover stories in Afhganistan, and something happened and you died, should your boss be held accountable, or was it just your dedication to your job? For someone talking about common sense, you are showing a total lack of it.

  83. packerfanfornot4life says: Oct 29, 2010 4:55 PM

    this is a bs deal. who is dumb enough to make him/let him go up in a lift on a windy day. living in green bay i know the winds were whipping all over the midwest for 2 days. we have road signs folded over.

  84. ndnationforlife07 says: Oct 29, 2010 4:59 PM

    windawg, i suggest you take a look at posts from former managers that state “we have no interaction with the coaching staff, we are independant from them as they have their jobs and we have ours. Its our duty to get the job done without being micromanaged”…hence, these kids do what they do BECAUSE THEY WANT TO and they take their jobs seriously. This theory that its the coaches fault is like saying anyone who doesnt stop a young man from joining the military because of the inherent dangers is at fault should they die…

  85. Floriostoupee says: Oct 29, 2010 5:36 PM

    While this is a tragic senseless death, there is something that needs to be remembered, and seems either Florio doesn’t realize or has conveniently forgotten.
    An 18 year old can enlist in the military, can take a weapon, go out into the field and not only put his life in others hands, but have others put their life in his.
    That being said, you cannot say that someone should stop a 20 year old from using a lift in those kind of conditions. He should be able to stop himself.
    Florio states “It’s definitely not Sullivan’s fault. He was 20. Kids that age aren’t thinking about life and death.” I would like to see Florio say that to some kids parents when their son/daughter has died in war.

  86. JohnnyBallsack says: Oct 29, 2010 6:30 PM

    My sympathy and thoughts go out to the Sullivan family.
    The blame must lie with the head coach. Kelly should be fired immediately. To me this is more wreckless than getting in a car drunk and killing someone, which would get him fired.
    I am not a OSU fan, but Jim Tressell practiced indoors the day before the incident publicly stated that he would not put a risk on his cameramen in such high winds.
    It is an awful tragedy, but one that could have been avioded.

  87. ChiTownFBFan says: Oct 29, 2010 8:33 PM

    People here comparing death during military service to death while filiming a freakin’ football practice need to pull their head’s out of their a$$es! When an honorable 20 yr old signs up for the military, they are implicitly signing up for duty that includes death. A 20 yr old signing up for filming football is not. In addition, one would assume that death during military service was (hopefully) happens in service to a much greater good (killing terrorists, preventing another 9-11, whatever). Filming a freakin’ ND practice serves NO purpose to society other than the entertainment of pu$$ies who don’t have any ability themselves. Just stop it already. Two. Totally. Different. Things. ND needs to be responsible for this – period.

  88. FairHooker says: Oct 29, 2010 10:47 PM

    From the Chicago Tribune:
    “Notre Dame’s policy manual mentions operators should check wind conditions before operating but gives no specifics. The document also provides for students to sign a waiver to free Notre Dame from liability in case of injury or death while using a lift.”
    Not really the protective mindset Florio pines for above.

  89. JohnnyBallsack says: Oct 30, 2010 12:22 AM

    FairHooker says:
    October 29, 2010 10:47 PM
    From the Chicago Tribune:
    “Notre Dame’s policy manual mentions operators should check wind conditions before operating but gives no specifics. The document also provides for students to sign a waiver to free Notre Dame from liability in case of injury or death while using a lift.”
    ————————————————
    This kid was more than likely working off his tuition by filming. By leaving his duty he would lose his “scholarship” just like if a bench player walked out on a practice. Brian Kelly is ultimately in charge of all operations for football. There are several others liable as well. The AD, the Head trainer, and others within the department. If there are tornados or lightning, someone in the department detects/tracks them and lets the team know when they can practice. If they do so anyway then the Coach is responsible.
    This definitely could have been avoided. But the pressure on the AD and Coach Kelly to win games outweighed the risks. Thus, they must be held responsible. Tragic, yes. Avoidable, definitely!

  90. County K 66ers says: Oct 30, 2010 8:52 AM

    Without a doubt it is the coaching staff, the managers of the practice field, that is responsible for the death of this student athlete.

  91. Brusci is Poncherello says: Oct 30, 2010 3:02 PM

    This certainly wouldn’t have happened had Charlie Weis been stationed on the first step..Now it looks like ND is getting “blown” off the field..

  92. RocChalk says: Oct 31, 2010 1:05 PM

    I served two years in RVN. At age 20 my thoughts of life and death were fleeting at best. those thought came during a fire fight, rocket fire and grenade launches. When we were back at base came it was who could find a basketball to play hoops. After I returned to good ole USA I didn’t think of Vietnam anymore. At age 22 I still reverted back to doing some rather STUPID stunts. Some one older than me still needed to cover my backside. 20 year olds are 20 year olds! Even in the time of war those 20 year olds have a leader who are older than them. Believe me, there are no 20 year olds barking orders in war time. There were none in Vietnam, there are none in Iraq and Afganistan!

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