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Notre Dame Ends Use of Hydraulic Lifts After Student Death

The University of Notre Dame will no longer use hydraulic scissor lifts to videotape football practices, following the October death of a student when a lift toppled in high winds.

The South Bend, Indiana, school will begin construction of a remote video system at its practice fields today, mounting four cameras on 50-foot poles, Notre Dame said on its website.

The announcement follows the Oct. 27 death of 20-year-old Declan Sullivan, who was recording an afternoon practice from a lift when it fell over.

“I said in the days after Declan’s death that we would do everything in our power to make changes to ensure that such an accident does not happen again -- here or elsewhere,” John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, said in a statement. “This system puts safety at the forefront in a completely new and innovative way.”

The South Bend area was under a hazardous-weather outlook that called for sustained winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour with gusts of 45 miles per hour (72 kilometers per hour) on the day Sullivan died, according to the National Weather Service.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident, while Notre Dame asked Peter Likins, the former president of the University of Arizona, to independently review the school’s actions. The school said today that neither inquiry is complete.

In a Nov. 5 letter to students and staff, Jenkins placed the blame for the accident on the university.

School Failed

“Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe,” said Jenkins, who is a Catholic priest.

Three days after his death, the Fighting Irish honored Sullivan with a moment of silence and prayer prior to a home game against Tulsa. Both teams wore shamrock decals with the letters DS on their helmets in his memory.

Sullivan, 20, was a junior from Long Grove, Illinois.

Notre Dame said it is in discussions with Sullivan’s family to determine how it can best honor his legacy.

“We are committed to memorializing Delcan’s zest for life and presence at Notre Dame in a meaningful and lasting way,” Jenkins said. “Our conversations with his family members will shape Notre Dame’s memorials of Declan in a manner that give authentic and proper tribute to their son and brother.”

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