The death of Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old student at Notre Dame, has caused many people to call for the resignation of Jack Swarbrick, the athletic director at N.D. Declan was killed while filming football practice from a hydraulic lift, when the lift fell over in strong winds. There is currently an investigation going on at Notre Dame, but no one is pointing any fingers, at least officially, just yet.
According to the Associated Press, the lift that Declan Sullivan was on had the ability to be extended to 40 ft, but Swarbrick said he didn’t know how high Sullivan was at the time of the accident. It is also unclear as to who gave Sullivan permission to use the lift in such strong winds. According to Swarbrick, the decision to practice outdoors in poor weather conditions is up to the individual athletic programs.
Regardless of who made the decision, it is clear that Declan Sullivan should have never been in the lift in such windy conditions. A safety consultant with Workplace Group LLC said that some lifts can be used in up to 25 mph winds, but most manufacturers recommend that lifts should not be used in anything higher than 10 mph winds. When Declan Sullivan was in the lift, winds were gusting at 50 mph. Swarbrick says that there was at least one other student in a hydraulic lift at the time of Sullivan’s death.
John W. Wallace said:
“Having 50 mph winds with someone inside the scissor lift, it’s just an accident waiting to happen in my professional opinion.”
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent an investigator to South Bend, but no report has been submitted yet. Notre Dame was thinking about canceling it’s game today against Tulsa, but decided instead to dedicate the game to Declan Sullivan, and to hold a moment of silence in his honor.
[Edit: This story has been edited. Declan Sullivan was a 20-year-old student. He was a junior at Notre Dame.]