Thursday, October 28, 2010

Declan Sullivan

Like Meredith on Sunday, I too was looking forward this week to writing about the most spectacular gridiron event of the year. But Luther Bowl will have to wait until next week. Unfortunately, I also feel the need to instead write about a tragedy. For the last two days, Declan Sullivan has been on my mind quite a bit. In case you haven’t heard, he was the Notre Dame student who was killed in a tragic accident yesterday at Notre Dame’s football practice. No, he wasn’t a player. He was a videographer taping the practice from a hydraulic platform that extends 40 to 50 feet in the air, higher than the top of a goal post.

All I keep thinking is that this should not have happened. Instruction manuals for most models of this type of hydraulic lifts warn they should not be used in winds higher than 25 mph. If you were in Chicago yesterday, you experienced the same kinds of winds they had in South Bend – consistently over 50 mph. The previous day the football team practiced indoors because of similar winds. Yesterday they moved outside, which is fine – but apparently no one thought to leave the videographers relatively grounded for the day. Sullivan reportedly posted on his Twitter shortly before the accident: “Holy ----. Holy ----. This is terrifying.”

At Carmel Catholic High School outside Chicago in Mundelein, Sullivan played football and was an honor student heavily involved in the music program. In interviews by the Chicago Tribune, he was described by those who knew him as “very intelligent” and someone who would “always brighten your day.” In addition to working video for the football team, he wrote “lively music reviews” for the student newspaper at Notre Dame.

Gracious God, be with all those involved at Notre Dame, and especially comfort those afflicted with burdens of responsibility. Hold the Sullivan family in your love. In this time of grief may they find peace and hope through your son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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