Is Deceased Notre Dame Student Declan Sullivan Worth More Than $77,500?

Alex FergusonSenior Analyst IIMarch 15, 2011

On March 15, 2011, Indiana regulators fined the University of Notre Dame $77,500 for being at fault for the death of student Declan Sullivan, who perished in the fall of last year while he was filming football practice for his beloved Irish team.
The actual figure that a place of employment can be fined is $70,000 - so yes, it hit the maximum.
On a windy day, Declan Sullivan went up a tower to film the all-important practice in 50 MPH+ winds, and the tower toppled, killing the student. Sullivan himself knew it wasn't safe, telling his Twitter followers that he'd "guessed he'd lived long enough", sarcastically calling his shinny up the post: "fun".

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As it turns out, it wasn't fun for Sullivan. It was death for Sullivan.

Notre Dame made all the right noises. It's apologised a thousand times about this, and the silence at the Notre Dame game after his death rang louder in the ears than the Notre Dame fight song. It was one of the most poignant moments of the season, a season, which, if you're talking about slain Rutgers warriors and dead Mississippi State footballers, was indeed a grisly one.

"None of these findings can do anything to replace the loss of a young man with boundless energy and creativity," Notre Dame's president Reverend John Jenkins said in a statement.
"As I said last fall, we failed to keep him safe, and for that, we remain profoundly sorry."

This was Notre Dame's fault. The scissor lift that took Sullivan up there should not have been operated above the speed of around 20mph. Notre Dame either wasn't listening to the weather warnings calling for a 25-35 mph gale (gusting 45 mph), or they chose to ignore it.

With the amount of apologising Notre Dame's president is doing—he said that the school "remains profoundly sorry" for the incident—you'd guess it was the latter. Brian Kelly or someone in the University's administration department is lucky to be in a job after the incident.

Sullivan's parents are obviously good people. They've said that they hope that the university learns from Sullivan's death and takes the appropriate steps.

But one thought's been running through our minds.....and it's one that's frankly none of our business: "$77,500? Is that all a kid's life is worth to the Indiana regulators? Are you freaking out of your minds?"
Forbes Magazine has said that it might cost Notre Dame $30 million. We don't know how much it is going to cost the university. We're not judges. But at the moment, $77,500 seems really, really low.

Let's hope the Sullivans do something about that—or at least Mr Jenkins and the University of Notre Dame should do what they should—add their apology with a significantly bigger check.