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Kelly addresses Sullivan’s death

Madeline Buckley | Monday, November 1, 2010

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in Saturday’s post-game press conference that he made the decision to practice outdoors Wednesday when junior videographer Declan Sullivan died after the scissor lift he was filming practice from collapsed.

The press conference was Kelly’s first public appearance since the accident.

“On Wednesday, I made the decision that we could have a productive and safe practice outdoors — productive because the conditions were such, although windy, were not unlike many days that I had practiced at other universities, including here at the University of Notre Dame,” Kelly said.

Winds reportedly reached 50 miles per hour while Sullivan was filming practice from the tower.

“We have systems in place to make certain and that deal with issues of safety. Clearly in this instance, they failed,” Kelly said. “We are in the process of examining all of those systems that are in place and looking for those answers.”

Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said Thursday that the Notre Dame Security Police and an independent accident reconstruction team are investigating the accident. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) is also conducting its own investigation.

The scissor lifts will not be used until the University has more information about the accident, Kelly said. He said he does not know if there is a maximum wind speed prescribed for use of the equipment.

Kelly said Wednesday’s practice was productive up until the moment of the accident. He said he instructed players to continue practicing when he heard the tower came down in order to keep them busy and away from the accident scene.

He then went to the scene where paramedics where administering to Sullivan.

“Once I felt comfortable in that situation, where we had professionals on site dealing with it, I went back inside to the practice field and subsequently called our football team together at midfield. We prayed for Declan. I told and informed our football team of the injury, the seriousness of it, and I then dismissed our football team,” Kelly said.

Sullivan’s family released a statement Saturday night, signed by his parents, Barry and Alison, which thanked the Notre Dame community.

“We are grateful for the consideration shown to us by the Notre Dame administration and everyone associated with the University. The love for Declan from the Notre Dame community evident at the Mass of Remembrance has helped us cope with our grief,” the statement says.

Sullivan loved his job as a videographer, his parents said in the statement.

“The grief we feel is tempered by the knowledge that Dec was doing what he loved in the place he most wanted to be.”

Fr. Tim Scully, a priest in residence at Fisher Hall, will say a rosary in remembrance of Sullivan at the Grotto every night at 11 p.m. as long as there is interest.

Sullivan’s Wake was Sunday in Lake Zurich, Ill. His Funeral is today at St. Mary’s Parish in Buffalo Grove, Ill. at 11:30 a.m.