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Notre Dame using old weather info day student died
The report did say that while Collins was concerned about the wind, “he did not believe that the winds were strong enough to warrant grounding the lifts.”
There was no immediate response from Sullivan’s family, who have said they hope others will learn from Sullivan’s death and take appropriate safety steps. The school has replaced the lifts with remote-controlled cameras.
The report was released two days after spring football practiced wrapped up and about a month after the Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration fined Notre Dame $77,500 for six safety violations tied to Sullivan’s death, including knowingly putting its employees in an unsafe situation and failing to heed weather service warnings.
Notre Dame said its investigation found “the accident was caused by a confluence of unrelated events and issues” _ among them a failure to provide football staff a way of monitoring wind speed during practices. Affleck-Graves also noted that the school’s office of risk management didn’t know the football team used the lifts to film practice.
Other factors cited as causes of the collapse were the lift being fully extended 40 feet and an unusual burst of wind described as “highly irregular,” occurring in South Bend approximately once every three years in non-thunderstorm conditions. The report also said some of the violations cited by state regulators played no role in Sullivan’s death, including the fact that the lift hadn’t been inspected in more than a year.
Notre Dame has told IOSHA it wants a formal hearing to discuss the state’s findings.
The school said it found there was an unwritten policy of lowering the lifts when winds exceeded 35 mph. The other two lifts being used that day were not supposed to be used in winds of more than 28 mph, and those were less susceptible to tipping than the one Sullivan was on.
But it also said that an engineering analysis found that “wind speeds significantly higher than 35 mph were necessary to tip the lift.”
The IOSHA report quoted Sullivan as telling assistant video coordinator Reuel Joaquin “Aw, man, this sucks,” when he was told the practice would be outdoors that day. He also tweeted that the weather was “terrifying” and also wrote: “Gusts of wind up to 60 mph today will be fun at work … I guess I’ve lived long enough.”
University investigators, however, couldn’t determine whether Sullivan “felt unsafe and pressure to stay in the lift,” specifically questioning his use of the word “terrifying.”
“Student videographers indicated their belief that the tweets likely reflected his joking nature, adding that his use of that word was common,” the report said.
The president also said the university is heeding the words of Sullivan’s parents, Barry and Alison, and IOSHA and will work to improve safety on campus and to educate others to help ensure such an accident doesn’t happen again, including coming up with a protocol to ensure practices are held in a safe environment. He also said Notre Dame will work with IOSHA to develop a national safety education program.
By Emily Miller
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