Friday, July 1, 2011
Settlement in death of Declan Sullivan
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame will pay a $42,000 fine for
six safety violations, make an undisclosed contribution to a
memorial for a student videographer who died at football practice
and start a campaign on the hazards of scissor lifts as part of a
settlement with the state of Indiana.
The details were announced Friday. Notre Dame originally
had been fined $77,500, and the most serious charge against it was that
it knowingly put its employees in an unsafe situation and failed to
heed National Weather Service warnings on a day when wind speeds
reached 53 mph.
The settlement reduces the charge from a knowing violation to a
Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior film student from Long
Grove, Ill., died Oct. 27 after the hydraulic scissor lift he was
on toppled over in high winds while he was filming football
"Notre Dame has said multiple times publicly that it wants to
ensure nothing like Declan's death occurs again on its watch, and
that it wants to honor Declan's memory," state labor commissioner
Lori Torres said. "We believe this unique agreement allows Notre
Dame to live up to those statements, and it allows our agency to
carry out its primary mission, which is to advance the safety of
employees throughout the state."
Notre Dame said in a statement that it "appreciates the
professionalism that (Indiana Occupational Health and Safety
Administration) officials have demonstrated throughout
this process and is pleased to have reached agreement with them on
the safety orders."
The report from the IOSHA did not identify who was responsible for making the
decision to allow student videographers to go up in the lifts that
day. The reports typically do not include that sort of information.
University officials have acknowledged that their procedures and
safeguards weren't adequate but said they couldn't find any one
person to blame for Sullivan's death. A university report found
that several members of the football staff were monitoring wind
speeds before practice, but they stopped after they went out for
Sullivan checked later and saw a warning indicating the
possibility of gusts up to 60 mph. He tweeted that the weather was
"terrifying" and wrote: "Gusts of wind up to 60 mph today will
be fun at work . . . I guess I've lived long enough."
A spokesman for Sullivan's parents said the family was satisfied
with the settlement, particularly the nationwide safety campaign.
"There can be no better way to remember Declan than to help
others avoid future tragedies," Sullivan's uncle, Mike Miley,
wrote in an email.
Miley and Notre Dame both said the amount of money Notre Dame
was contributing to the memorial was a private matter.