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ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

Posted on: October 28, 2010 2:58 am

Posted by Adam Jacobi

By now, we've all heard about the tragic death of Declan Sullivan, the Notre Dame student assistant who was killed when his hydraulic film tower was blown over and toppled onto an adjoining street. As with any similar incident, an investigation is underway, if for no other reason than for a little more sense of closure for Sullivan's family and the team.

The thing of it is, though, Sullivan was actually acutely aware of the danger he faced when he went up into that raised platform on Wednesday. We know that because of two Facebook statuses he posted minutes before the fatal accident. Here's what Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune reports was on Sullivan's Facebook page:

Sullivan said: “Holy (expletive) holy (expletive) this is terrifying.”
And at 3:32 p.m., he posted: Gusts of wind up to 60mph well today will be fun at work... I guess I've lived long enough :-/

Knowing how this story ends and reading them after the fact is, for lack of a better term, sickening. It's the manifestation of every fear that keeps a parent awake at night, that their child's sense of trust will override his or her sense of danger, and that it ends badly. You read these posts and just think, "NO, NO, NO, STAY ON THE GROUND." But Sullivan didn't, and it's too late now.

Yet at the same time, Sullivan did choose to go up in the tower on Wednesday, and there are no reports as of yet that Kelly forced Sullivan to stay up there against any voiced objections. In other words, absent any as-yet-undisclosed details, there's really nobody to blame here, no bad guys who facilitated Sullivan's death. When he posted those now-haunting Facebook updates, he probably wasn't doing so as a cry for help so much as setting the stage for a story to tell later. That's not to put the blame on Sullivan's death on him, of course; even he underestimated the danger he faced going up there Wednesday, and that's why we're all where we are now.

Ugh. As if the story needed any worse details. Again, our thoughts are with the Notre Dame team, its community, and Sullivan's family.


Since: Oct 1, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2010 2:28 pm

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

At 20, doing what was my "dream" job, I probably would have gone up on the lift.  I would have assumed that my supervisor wouldn't let me go up if it were especially dangerous.  I certainly wouldn't have assumed that the lift might topple over because surely my supervisor would have been aware of the restrictions and proper usage of the equipment.  Sure, I would be scared and would hold on extra tight, but as long as I did that, I'd be fine.
Someone made a grave error and it wasn't Declan Sullivan.  His job was to operate a video camera, not ensure that the equipment used to facilitate this endeavor was being employed properly.  He paid for someone's gross negligence with his life.  And I seriously doubt the millions of $ that will be coming his family's way will do anything to assuage their guilt.

Since: Oct 7, 2007
Posted on: October 28, 2010 2:09 pm

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

I'm just going to say this: No one should have even ALLOWED him to get up there! I bet there were all sorts of warning labels on there that said not to be on that if the wind is blowing too much. His boss should've told him not to worry about it. It's the boss, especially of a college student because he probably had work-study, who is responsible for ensuring the environment was safe.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2010 2:05 pm

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

Are we a nation of lawyers or what ... the flood of people suggesting who to blame is amazing; and I'm sure the lawsuits will follow in good order.  That's kind of sickening in and of itself.

I think his point was, if the kid didn't think it was safe, he shouldn't have gone up.  He should have stayed down, complained about an unsafe workplace, and not gone back until ND fixed it.  I know the counter: he's X years old, and doesn't know any better, wouldn't/couldn't turn down a dream job ... I understand.

But accidents do occur, and they're just accidents.  Why must we always blame and sue, blame and sue?  This is what has led us to a nation of warning labels like: Caution, flame may be hot when candle is lighted.  Oy.

Since: Feb 14, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2010 1:13 pm

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

from the article:  there's really nobody to blame here
try the department and/or mananger that hired the student to video tape and allowed him up on a tower with winds gusting 60+ mph. 


Since: Jul 2, 2007
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:34 pm

You are a little short..

on workplace rules or common sense; I will make the leap of faith as a writer you stayed in English or Women's Studies. The only way Sullivan could possibly be responsible is he owned the tower and worked as an indepedent contractor. Not the case, his boss should have looked around and said, you know this isn't a good day to be filming. It was stupudity and carelessness, some on Sullivan but most on his supervisors.

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:19 pm

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

It was Twitter not Facebook.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: October 28, 2010 11:54 am

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

Look, just because no-one forced him to do anything, doesn't mean this wasn't preventable. There is such a thing a negligence. Whether or not that was the case here we don't know yet. But to simply say, "Well he wasn't forced, so it was no-one's fault" is irresponsible. Someone could have forced him to stay out of that thing. This was a 20-year old student, and presumably, he had a boss/suoervisor of some kind who he reported to. To say that there was nothing they could do is blatantly wrong. They could have said, "You know, there are really strong winds and it's unsafe for you to be up there."

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Sometimes, not doing something or not telling someone something is just as dangerous as doing/saying it

Since: Oct 12, 2008
Posted on: October 28, 2010 11:09 am

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

The only thing - and I repeat, the only thing - that makes me happy in this situation is that no one person was responsible for this happening.  We have enough bad guys in the world.  That said, my thoughts and prayers are with him, because something like this should never happen.  What an awful accident.  I've been up in those lifts and it's a bit scary even on a windless day.  How he must have been feeling... I'm praying for his soul.

Since: Aug 5, 2009
Posted on: October 28, 2010 11:09 am

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

As a parent, this story is heart breaking.  As a ND alumnus, it makes me feel like I've lost one of my family.  My prayers are with the family, especially Declan's sister who also attends ND.

Since: Dec 21, 2009
Posted on: October 28, 2010 8:05 am

ND tower victim: "Holy **** this is terrifying"

Man reading that story just sent a chill up my spine.  My thoughts and prayers are with Declan Sullivan’s family for their terrible loss.  Parents should never, ever have to bury one of their children.  My parents had to do the same and it still is surreal that my sister is no longer on this earth.   

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or