Tag: John Affleck-Graves

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Notre Dame releases report on Sullivan accident

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After over six months of investigating, Notre Dame released their internal report stemming from the aerial lift accident that took the life of student videographer Declan Sullivan.

The 145-page document can be read in its entirety here, but found the causes of the accident to be an irregular and extraordinary 53 mile-per-hour wind gust, staff members’ lack of knowledge regarding the current and projected weather conditions, specific characteristics of the scissor lift, and the height of the lift during the wind gust.

In his letter opening the report, school president Rev. John Jenkins had this to say:

After a thorough and painstaking study in which numerous university personnel were interviewed and external experts consulted, we have reached the conclusion that no one acted in disregard for safety. Each individual involved based his decisions and actions that day on the best information available at the time and in accord with the procedures that were in place. The procedures regarding wind safety obviously did not prevent this accident and must be brought up to the more rigorous standards that we have for other weather conditions — such as cold, heat, humidity, and lightning. Many individuals and departments share the collective responsibility for the inadequacy of the procedures that led to this tragedy. The university, then, is collectively responsible. Insofar as the President is responsible for the unversity as a whole, I am the individual who bears the most responsibility, and I accept that responsibility.

Let me conclude by expressing to the Sullivan family our deepest sorrow for the loss of Declan. You entrusted him to our car, and we failed to keep him safe. Again, I thank you for the graciousness, honesty and courage you have shown in struggling with the aftermath of this tragedy.

Nothing we do can restore Declan to his family and to this community. But one important way to memorialize Declan is to do all we can do understand the factors that led to his death and take the steps to prevent such an accident from happening again at Notre Dame — or anywhere else.

The investigation was independently observed by Dr. Peter Likins, a former member of the Knight Commission and the former Provost of Columbia and President at the University of Arizona. It was led by Dr. John Affleck-Graves, the university’s Executive Vice President.

UPDATE — The Sullivan family, through its family spokesman, Mike Miley, Declan’s uncle, says the family is grateful for the detail Notre Dame has included in the report.

“What we’re satisfied is this process is as detailed as it is,” Miley said. “At the end of the day, what we want seems to be the same thing Notre Dame wants– to avoid this sort of tragedy again with anybody, anywhere. I look forward to seeing the details about how Notre Dame moves their plan nationally.”

According to a report by the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen, after months of near-silence, expect to hear from Declan’s parents, Barry and Alison soon.

“I advised Barry, specifically, that he needs to be thinking about this in terms of sometime in the next week,” Miley said. “Just becayse of the freshness of the story and the report. At the same time, I suggested and he very much agreed, that today is not that day, because today is about the Notre Dame report. We want to make sure that everyone has a chance to look at this and thoroughly go through it. We feel like it will be a more impactful conversation with the family after that.”

Notre Dame releases statements on IOSHA findings

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The University of Notre Dame released statements in response to the findings by the Indiana Safety and Health Administration, stemming from the October 27 accident that took the life of student Declan Sullivan.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame president:

“Notre Dame has great respect for the thorough and professional manner in which IOSHA officials have conducted their investigation. We have worked collaboratively with them over the past four months and have had a chance today to take a preliminary look at their findings. We will study the details very carefully and take the actions necessary to protect the ongoing safety of our students and staff. We also are very interested in the IOSHA educational effort and have every intention of being a part of that to share what we learn.

“None of these findings can do anything to replace the loss of a young man with boundless energy and creativity. As I said last fall, we failed to keep him safe, and for that we remain profoundly sorry.”

John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president:

“The IOSHA findings are very helpful as we begin to conclude our own comprehensive investigation. As part of the agency’s review process, we will meet with officials in the next 15 days. We expect that our report will include information gathered through the IOSHA investigation as we focus on all factors that contributed to the accident, including the series of decisions made on that day. We have committed to making a report of our investigation public and will do so once it is complete and we have finalized our review with IOSHA, which we expect to be in four to six weeks.”

Jack Swarbrick, athletic director:

“I know John Affleck-Graves is leading a wide-ranging university investigation that will incorporate the findings from IOSHA. But nothing can change the tragic reality of what occurred last October, and all of us in Irish athletics continue to grieve with the Sullivans and keep them in our prayers.”

Brian Kelly, head football coach:

“Declan was a wonderful member of our football family and is missed to this day. We all continue to both grieve and keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. I’m sure the university will use the findings from the state to enhance the investigation into this tragedy.”