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“Barry Sullivan knows the death of his son Declan could have been prevented. He knows bad decisions were made and the best safety practices weren’t followed. He knows his oldest child never should have been filming a University of Notre Dame football practice from an elevated scissor lift amid a severe wind warning. And he knows that no lawsuit, finger-pointing or public outrage can change any of it,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

It has been a year since Notre Dame University student Declan Sullivan was killed after he fell from an elevated lift that was toppled by severe winds as he was filming a football practice. And in that year, in spite of official reports determining that the University failed to maintain safe working conditions, his family has not considered filing a wrongful death lawsuit or received any type of compensation from Notre Dame.


Both the University and the Sullivan family are focusing on addressing the safety issues surrounding this tragic accident and how to prevent similar wrongful death incidents going forward, rather than assigning blame. As part of this effort, the Indiana Department of Labor and the University of Notre Dame launched a campaign this summer which advocates grounding lifts whenever winds are over 28 mph and using real-time weather information to determine wind speeds. The U.S. Department of labor reports that approximately 30 people are killed each year from aerial lift accidents in the US.

The Sullivan family has chosen to honor their son’s memory through the Declan Drumm Memorial Fund, which has raised over $100,000 in the past year. Contributions have been made to the fund not only by the University and relatives of the Sullivans, but also from strangers who were touched by the Sullivan family’s loss.

The memorial fund is ongoing and has already distributed donations to St. Mary School in Buffalo Grove, Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein and Horizons for Youth. The latter, the primary recipient, is a Chicago-based non-profit that focuses on helping disadvantaged students reach their academic goals.

Independently of the Memorial Fund set up by the family, the University of Notre Dame has announced that they will award a scholarship in Declan’s name. Additionally, they have created a campus memorial in his honor with a plaque, two benches and trees which was dedicated prior to the Notre Dame vs. USC game last Saturday.

Declan Sullivan’s family has chosen to remember and honor him in a way they feel is more appropriate than pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. According to the Trib, Declan’s father felt that “Dec would want us to go on and remember him in a positive way,” he said. “I’d like to think we’re doing that.”

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