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.