Notre Dame Student Declan Sullivan Dies Filming Practice, Questions Arise

Dan ScofieldAnalyst IOctober 28, 2010

The scene at Notre Dame Wednesday night.
The scene at Notre Dame Wednesday night.

The scene at Notre Dame football practice on Wednesday wasn't what you would expect to see when the players took the field in preparation for the Tulsa game this weekend.

Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Illinois, was killed after a tower that he was filming practice from fell over into the surrounding neighborhood street.

The tower, standing about 50 feet above the ground, was a hydraulic scissor lift.

No one knows why the Notre Dame junior was allowed to go out into the tower on such a windy day in South Bend. Authorities are looking further into the situation, but for now, Irish nation is in a state of mourning after losing such a young life involved with its football program.

No matter how minor or unimportant a student manager might seem to a football program, these are the people who make things run correctly—the guys who get little to no recognition for their work and certainly don't get the media buzz that any of the actual staff members or players get for taking the field every day for practice or games.

Sullivan, on his Twitter account, posted the following at around 3:22 PM: "Gusts of wind up to 60 mph. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I've lived long enough."

Sent up in the middle of breezy conditions, the real question now is who allowed Sullivan up in the lift? It may have been a sunny autumn day, but sending a student manager to film in such a dangerous environment is a very controversial decision for the Notre Dame athletic department. 

At 4:06 PM, according to Sullivan's Twitter, a bone-chilling post: "Holy (blank). Holy (blank). This is terrifying."

The worst part about this story is the hopelessness the 20-year-old must have been feeling up in that tower, fearing for his life, but continuing to do his job and serve his role. He may have passed on, but this young man needs to be recognized for his heart, pride and commitment.

Elsewhere, however, questions need to be answered.

Why was Sullivan in that tower in the first place? Who is going to take the blame for this? These are all questions that will be answered in the next few days, or hopefully even sooner at Jack Swarbrick's 2 PM press conference today on campus.

The questions will be answered, and the criticism will be handed out. But for now, take a second out of your busy day to remember Declan Sullivan, the 20-year-old student manager hero who lost his life Wednesday afternoon.