Notre Dame ‘Collectively Responsible’ In Student Death

The University of Notre Dame was “collectively responsible” for the October death of a student manager working for its football program, according to an internal report released by the school earlier today. Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins cited insufficient protocol for safety and unusual wind conditions as causes for the death of Declan Sullivan, the 20-year-old team videographer who was fatally blown off a hydraulic lift during a Notre Dame practice.

According to the report, the football program’s policy was to keep the videographers off the lifts if the winds reached more than 35 mph. After coach Brian Kelly opted to hold practice outside, the staff checked the wind speeds six times during the day to make sure they had not exceeded the threshold.[..]

When checking weather websites, the staff saw reports of 23 mph sustained winds with 30 mph gusts prior to practice, according to the report. Computer forensics show that no one on the staff clicked on a wind advisory icon that warned of possible winds exceeding 50 mph, said John Affleck-Graves, the university’s executive vice president.

Eight minutes after the football staff checked the weather for the final time, the National Weather Service reported wind gusts up to 38 miles per hour in South Bend. There were no wind gauges on the field, so the staff depended on their own observations to determine if the conditions were safe.

–Chicago Tribune.

Those observations did not include Sullivan’s Twitter feed, who expressed fear for his life minutes before the wind would topple the lift he was occupying. The school, in its way, absolved the negligence of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and his staff, which is neither satisfying nor surprising.

The entire 145-page report from the school can be read here.