Report released on Declan Sullivan tragedy


University of Notre DameThe University of Notre Dame recently released a comprehensive report containing the findings of a nearly six-month investigation into the accident that took the life of student Declan Sullivan last fall.

A junior from Long Grove, Ill., Sullivan died Oct. 27 when the elevated scissor lift from which he was videotaping the Notre Dame football practice fell.

The report detailed the findings from an investigation led by the University’s executive vice president, John Affleck-Graves, and included extensive test results, input, and analysis from several leading experts in wind engineering, aerial lifts, and meteorology. The investigation also included interviews with more than 50 people who were on the scene, involved in the events of the day, or familiar with other aspects of the accident; forensic examination of computers; and input from a separate investigation by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA).

Affleck-Graves reported that the main reasons for the accident were:

  • A sudden and extraordinary 53 mph burst of wind.
  • Staff members’ lack of knowledge regarding on-the-field wind speeds.
  • The lift that fell, a Marklift, is structurally different than two other lifts used that day and more susceptible to tipping.
  • The height of the lift at the time of the accident.

The full report – which includes considerable information and detail regarding the conclusions, the experts and their analyses – is available online at

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