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ND junior dies in video tower accident

Sarah Mervosh and Laura McCrystal | Thursday, October 28, 2010

Junior Declan Sullivan died Wednesday when a film tower fell over during football practice. He was 20.

Those who knew him well remembered Sullivan, a resident of Fisher Hall, as fun-loving and outgoing.

His rector, Fr. Robert Moss, said he remembers Sullivan “mostly just for his enthusiasm for everything he was involved in.”

Originally from Long Grove, Ill., Sullivan was double majoring in marketing and Film, Television & Theatre. 

Sullivan was a contributor to The Observer’s Scene section.

He was filming practice from a hydraulic scissorlift at the LaBar Practice Complex on the southeast side of campus when the tower fell around 4:50 p.m., according to a University press release. He worked as a videographer for the Department of Athletics.

Sullivan was transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he later died.

Junior Marc Anthony Rosa, who was a friend of Sullivan, said describing Sullivan was an “impossible task.”

“He’s an unbelievably unique soul that, when you meet him, he’s completely addicting to be around. He’s nonstop energy. He’s like no one else you’ve ever met,” he said. “Although he may not be here, his soul is impossible to leave this campus and the people who’ve known him.”

Moss said he arrived at the hospital after Sullivan died, and he anointed and blessed the body.

“I was glad to be able to anoint the body,” he said.

When Moss left the hospital, he said a University representative stayed with the body until family members arrived. Sullivan’s sister is a freshman Lewis Hall resident.

Moss said he met with hall staff and gathered Fisher residents in the hall’s chapel at 8 p.m. to make the announcement.

“Every chair was full,” he said. “He’ll be greatly missed.”

Sullivan’s resident assistant Teddy Schaefer, a senior, said Sullivan was a “fun-loving guy, just a happy person. I’m in shock right now.”

Moss presided over a standing-room-only Mass for Sullivan Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. About 200 people attended the service in Fisher’s St. Paul Chapel.

The Mass opened with the song “On Eagle’s Wings” and closed with the congregation singing the Alma Mater.

Following the Mass, attendees processed to the Grotto, where about 150 students gathered and recited a decade of the rosary.

Junior Kathryn Greenfield, a friend of Sullivan’s who was among the students at the Grotto, said Sullivan was the first male student she became friends with at Notre Dame.

“He is the nicest, most easy-going [person], always has a smile on his face, always wants to have a good time,” she said. “Sweet person.”

Junior Alex Karamol agreed and called Sullivan “a total sweetheart.”

Greenfield and Karamol said they spent time sitting together in silence after hearing the news of Sullivan’s death, but also spent time telling stories about their friend.

They recalled his signature facial expressions and phrases, and laughed while mimicking them for each other.

Karamol said her favorite memory of Sullivan was when she was in a film he made his freshman year because she saw her easy-going friend being serious about his passion.

“It was a different side of him,” she said.

The University notified students of the death at 9 p.m. Wednesday in an e-mail signed by University President Fr. John Jenkins and Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Tom Doyle.

“No words can convey the shock and grief we all are experiencing,” the e-mail said. “Declan was a well-liked, bright and enthusiastic film and marketing student and a valued member of the Notre Dame family. His death is a tremendous loss that will be felt very deeply and we share in your grief during this incredibly difficult time.”

Head football coach Brian Kelly also released a statement Wednesday night.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Declan’s family and friends,” he said. “Declan was a diligent student worker in our video department and had a tremendous personality and great sense of humor. He brightened the days for all that had the privilege to work with him, and the Notre Dame football family will dearly miss him.”

Moss, who has been rector of Fisher Hall for 12 years and in education for almost 40 years, has faced student death in the past, and said it is always difficult.

“It’s always a tragedy when a young person is called home to God,” he said.

A Mass of Remembrance will be held in honor of Sullivan today at 10 p.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The entire Notre Dame community is invited to attend, according to the e-mail sent to the student body.

Douglas Farmer contributed to this report.

SEE ALSO: http://www.ndsmcobserver.com/honoring-declan-1.1733173