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State finds Notre Dame at fault in student videographer's death

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A four-month investigation into a student's death has found the University of Notre Dame did not maintain safe working conditions and failed to heed wind warnings when the hydraulic lift he was standing on to film football practice toppled over in 51-mph gusts.

Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres said Tuesday that the school will be fined $22,500 for five violations, including failing to properly train Declan Sullivan, the 20-year-old junior film student from the Chicago suburb of Long Grove, Ill. who died in the Oct. 27 accident.

She said the university also was at fault for allowing Sullivan to be in the lift after the National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory.

She said Notre Dame knowingly exposed Sullivan and two other videographers to unsafe conditions. She said the school has been fined $55,000 for that violation.

The school has until April 7 to respond to the state report.

Less than an hour before the incident that led to his death, Sullivan had tweeted his concerns about what he described as "terrifying" weather.

''Gusts of wind up to 60 mph today will be fun at work ... I guess I've lived long enough."

Notre Dame has since halted the use of hydraulic lifts to film football practices and will install remote-controlled cameras on poles at football practice fields.

The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, said the new system fulfills a pledge made after junior Declan Sullivan died.

"I said in the days after Declan's death that we would do everything in our power to make changes to ensure that such an accident does not happen again — here or elsewhere," Jenkins said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Jenkins has said the university is responsible for Sullivan's death because it failed to protect him.

"Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe," Jenkins wrote in an e-mail to students and staff 10 days after the accident.

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  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

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