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College football teams reconsider use of lifts after death of Notre Dame student

While Notre Dame students and the family of Declan Sullivan mourned his death, college football programs re-assessed their use of hydraulic scissor lifts for filming practices.

Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior, was killed Wednesday when the raised hydraulic lift on which he was standing to film football practice toppled in a 51-mph wind gust.

At Louisiana State, Coach Les Miles said he discussed safety standards with the school's chief videographer. "We talked about the specifics of high wind on those lifts, " Miles said Thursday. "We're concerned yet again to make sure there are safeguards in place to make sure those guys are safe. I think there are days you don't put them up there.

"You have to at least lower the lift so the center of gravity is not so different. We've had issues like that in the past at another place I coached. It's scary. It's [weather] real, and can come upon you. Suddenly, it's over there but moving quicker than anyone anticipated. We had a guy in a lift that got caught onto a wire that stopped the lift from falling. Scared the heck out of us."

Manufacturers of most lifts recommend that they not be used in winds over 25 mph and, while the NCAA has a severe-weather policy for schools, it is not certain whether it pertains to lifts. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the matter as a workplace death. North Carolina and Wyoming, according to the Associated Press, also are re-examining their policies.

About 1,000 mourners attended a Mass on Thursday for Sullivan. More than 1,000 others gathered outside Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart and about 500 watched the Mass live in the LaFortune Student Center.

"Declan was a story teller. And, while Declan could tell a good tale and write a captivating essay, his preferred medium for story telling was through the lens of a camera," the Rev. Thomas Doyle, Notre Dame's vice president for student affairs, told mourners who included Sullivan's family and the football team. "Capturing the texture of life on film was the passion and the way that Declan created stories that created meaning and passion to his and others' lives. Telling stories through the lens of a camera is how Declan lived. It is not how he died."


Mike Wise: A senseless death at Notre Dame

By Cindy Boren  | October 29, 2010; 10:32 AM ET
Categories:  College football  
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