OSHA Descends on Notre Dame After Student Death

Saturday's game against Tulsa to go on as scheduled

Thursday, Oct 28, 2010  |  Updated 8:05 PM CDT
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Athletic Direct Jack Swarbrick described the weather as

Athletic Direct Jack Swarbrick described the weather as "unremarkable" as he made the journey from his office to the practice field, until a strong gust came through.

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The University of Notre Dame is in the beginning stages of a major investigation in the death of a student who was killed when the tower he was in fell over.

"There is a lot to learn here.  We will learn it all, we will learn it in an expeditious manner," athletic director Jack Swarbrick said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.  "There's a lot of speculation about what may or may not have happened.  But that's what the investigation is for."

Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., died Wednesday at a South Bend hospital after being transported from the LaBar practice complex.

Already, members of the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on campus, and the investigation will include a look at the meteorological conditions, the equipment used and athletic department procedures.

Swarbrick described the weather as unremarkable as he made the journey from his office to the practice field, until a strong gust came through.
 
"Things started flying by me that had otherwise been stationary," he said, including Gatorade containers and towels.

In the moments leading up to the incident, Sullivan himself expressed fear of being in the tower, according to messages posted to his Facebook and Twitter profiles.

The National Weather Service said winds in the area were gusting to 51 mph at the time when the hydraulic scissor lift, which can be lowered or raised depending on needs, toppled.  Swarbrick confirmed that another person was in another lift at the time of the incident, but he said he didn't know the height to which they were extended.

It also was not clear who made the scissor lift. But one manufacturer of scissor lifts, HHS Wire, said on its website that the device should not be used in winds above 25 mph. 

Sullivan graduated from Carmel High School in Mundelein in 2008 and was a trumpet player in four schools bands.  He also excelled in advanced placement and honors classes. 

Students and faculty at the high school began the day Thursday with a moment of silence for their former classmate.  His younger brother, a sophomore at the school, plays on the football team.  The football players gathered in the school chapel earlier in the day for a team prayer.  
 
The Fighting Irish have decided to go ahead with Saturday's game against Tulsa, but a previously planned pep rally and luncheon have been canceled.  Members of the football team will wear decals on their helmets honoring Sullivan a moment of silence will be held pre-game.

A memorial service will be held Thursday evening at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus.

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