University of Notre Dame leaders gathered today to express their profound sorrow and grief over the death of Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., who died Wednesday in an accident at a Notre Dame football practice field.
ND Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said Saturday’s game against the University of Tulsa will continue as planned, in Sullivan’s memory. Players will wear decals on their helmets commemorating Sullivan; a moment of silence will precede the coin toss.
Swarbrick said Coach Brian Kelly’s primary focus at this juncture is the emotional state of members of the football program.
“Our focus is on the team, and on Declan,” Swarbrick said. “There is an intensity that attaches to the experience of being part of a team and an athletic program. Declan is part of that program. And so, the sorrow that is felt is even greater.”
A number of traditional home football weekend events have been canceled. The Thursday evening Brian Kelly Radio Show, featuring the Irish head football coach, has been canceled, as have the Friday football luncheon and pep rally.
“There is no greater sadness for a university community than the death of one of its students,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon. “There is certainly no greater sadness for a family than the loss of a son or brother. It is with a sense of that double sadness that, on behalf our university, I express our deepest condolences to Declan’s family, friends and classmates.”
A member of a Department of Athletics video crew, Sullivan died while videotaping Notre Dame football practice for the Department of Athletics when a hydraulic scissor lift at the LaBar Practice Complex fell over.
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said the accident will be thoroughly investigated by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Notre Dame Security Police Department.
“There’s a lot to learn here and we will learn it all in an expeditious manner.”
Sullivan’s Twitter account and Facebook showed him expressing a message of fear approximately 45 minutes before he died. While on top of the lift he tweeted “Holy Shit. Holy Shit. This is terrifying.”
Father Jenkins will celebrate a Mass of Remembrance in Sullivan’s honor at 10 p.m. Thursday in the Basilica of Sacred Heart. It will be streamed live on the Web and overflow viewing areas will be available in the LaFortune Student Center.
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