When a Notre Dame student dies, it brings much needed perspective. Having a Notre Dame student die is certainly far more important than their famous football team. Even though the campus was in angst over a 4-4 start, and an ugly loss to Navy, the loss of DeClan Sullivan stings much more. Yet his death has also brought even more turmoil to the football team, since he was killed while filming them. When a Notre Dame student dies in bad conditions that the team didn’t have to practice in, it raises even more troubling questions.
DeClan Sullivan worked in the school film department, and was tasked with filming practice sessions. On Wednesday, the Irish had to practice indoors for the first time, due to heavy wind in the area. Although the wind strength barely decreased yesterday, the team returned outdoors anyway.
The Notre Dame student dies ordeal could have easily been avoided, as it turns out. Practicing outdoors, after everyone stayed indoors on the previous day, was concerning enough. But Sullivan was filming on a tower that wasn’t built to withstand such heavy gusts.
The National Weather Service claimed that wind was as high at 51 mph, but the tower could only hold up against 25-30 mph blasts. More ominous details came from Sullivan himself, as his final thoughts were captured on Twitter.
Before the Notre Dame student died, he posted on Twitter that the wind was up to 60 mph – but that “I guess I’ve lived long enough.” His final post was made 44 minutes before his deadly fall, as he Tweeted “Holy**ck holly **ck this is terrifying.” Yet he continued to film the practice, before he finally fell from the tower at 4:50 pm.
The circumstances around the tragedy have shaken the campus, and put the football team under scrutiny. Brian Kelly and company are already struggling with a 4-4 start, but this is something else entirely.
The team is under question for practicing outdoors in such conditions, despite having the option of going indoors. Meanwhile, the school is under question for the unsafe tower Sullivan used, which could not withstand the wind for long. Sullivan himself obviously knew it was unsafe before long, yet he went on with work anyway.
The whole thing was a deadly combination of questionable actions and circumstances. Of course, the Notre Dame student dies fiasco could not have been forseen, as the extent of the danger was only detected in hindsight. Yet since this sort of thing is so rare, it makes it more glaring when it does happen.
Sports Grid- “Notre Dame Student Dies While Filming Football Practice”
Huffington Post- “DeClan Sullvan, Notre Dame Student Killed In Video Tower Collapse, Tweeted Before His Fall”