SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Indiana's workplace safety agency said Thursday it was investigating the death of a Notre Dame student who was videotaping football practice when the tower he was in fell over.
Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., died Wednesday at a South Bend hospital after being transported from the LaBar practice complex.
The National Weather Service said winds in the area were gusting to 51 mph at the time when the hydraulic scissor lift, which can be lowered or raised depending on needs, toppled. The football team had practiced indoors on Tuesday because of the blustery conditions caused by a fierce storm that swept through the region.
The university did not return calls seeking comment on Wednesday, and it was not clear who authorized Sullivan to go up in the scissor lift to videotape Wednesday's practice.
It also was not clear who made the scissor lift. But one manufacturer of scissor lifts, HHS Wire, said on its website that the device should not be used in winds above 25 mph.
Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman Marc Lotter said Thursday the agency had an investigator on the scene in South Bend. He said it was too early to say when the agency, which has the authority to levee fines, might release a report.
"Declan was a diligent student worker in our video department and had a tremendous personality and great sense of humor," Coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday in a release. "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 was making grief counselors available for students, and university president Rev. John Jenkins will preside over a special Mass in Sullivan's memory on Thursday.
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss," Jenkins said. "Our hearts go out to the student's family and friends and our prayers and profound sympathies are with them during this incredibly difficult time. The loss of someone so young is a terrible shock and a great sadness. Our entire community shares in the family's grief."
The Fighting Irish, who host Tulsa this Saturday, canceled post-practice interviews after Wednesday's accident.
"In the midst of a season where you are disappointed with the outcomes ... you can lose sight of what's most important. Sad day at practice," senior linebacker Brian Smith posted on his Twitter page on Wednesday. "I will never forget today."