A Notre Dame Student died yesterday in a wind storm accident. The20-year-old student from Long Grove was killed Wednesday when a lift used for filming on the University of Notre Dame campus fell while he was recording the football team's practice, officials said.Declan Sullivan, a junior at Notre Dame, was on one of four hydraulic, portable lifts usually used to film Notre Dame practice when the accident occurred at 3:50 p.m. Chicago time, the university said in a statement. He was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he later died.
"We are devastated by the loss. Declan Sullivan died today at Notre Dame doing what he loved," said Mike Miley, Sullivan's uncle. "Given the suddenness of the event, the family asks for privacy as they absorb the tragic news."
The cause of the accident is under investigation, university officials said.
Posts to Sullivan's page earlier Wednesday demonstrated his trepidation as he posted "This is terrifying," apparently while still on the lift, according to two sources. Miley said the family had no comment about the Facebook post and said the family is trying to get Facebook to remove the comments.
Wednesday night, the downed lift lay across the street adjacent to Notre Dame's practice fields. Using lights powered by portable generators, police continued their investigation.
South Bend was under a wind advisory until 9 p.m. Wednesday, and gusts at the time of the accident reached 51 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The lift, when fully extended, reaches just a bit higher than a football goalpost.The lift either blew back or collapsed, gashing a fence and line of bushes. The top of the lift landed in the middle of the road. The football team evidently continued to practice, leaving the field roughly 20 to 30 minutes after the accident.Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly said Sullivan "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."Notre Dame officials did not comment on why the football team practiced outside Wednesday in the strong winds. The Irish practiced indoors a day earlier in similarly gusty conditions.Miley, Sullivan's uncle, said he has known the Notre Dame student "since he was a toddler.""He's been a great kid at all ages ... He had a lot of joy and energy and lots of friends, I'm sure he's got friends on campus who are really sad right now," Miley said.Sullivan had many interests growing up, Miley said, including sports and learning about the media. Miley, who has a background in media, said his nephew would often approach him with different questions about the subject.
"I was satisfied to learn that he was going into a media-related field. I could just see that he was having so much fun taking pictures and filming," said Miley, who added that Sullivan helped get video to the Notre Dame football team to review during practice.In addition to his parents, Barry and Alison, Sullivan has two younger siblings, a brother in high school and a sister, who also attends Notre Dame, Miley said."He was just such a happy kid. His joy was infectious," Miley said.Sullivan was a film and marketing major and a fan of television shows such as "The Office" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," as well as movies like "Fight Club," according to his Facebook profile.A special mass of remembrance for Sullivan will be celebrated at 9 p.m. Thursday Chicago time at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus.