In the aftermath of a Notre Dame student’s tragic death in a fall while filming football practice Wednesday, there was/is one question that’s begged to be asked: what the hell was anyone doing in a scissor lift 50 feet in the air with wind gusts of 50-plus mph?
That will be one of the myriad questions an Indiana state agency charged with worker safety will seek to answer.
According to the Associated Press, the state’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has already sent an investigator to the scene of the accident to investigate the death of 20-year-old Notre Dame student Declan Sullivan. An agency spokesperson said that there’s no timetable for the release of a report and, other than statements from school officials expressing sadness over Sullivan’s death, the school, as expected, has not commented on the situation.
Another question that OSHA will seek an answer to is exactly who authorized/instructed Sullivan to be in the lift to begin with. As noted earlier, winds were gusting in excess of 50 mph around the time Sullivan was in the lift; according to guidelines from one manufacturer of the type of equipment being utilized, the scissor lift should never be used in winds greater than 25 mph.
Sullivan himself seemed to realize that he was in a potentially dangerous situation.
In a post to his Twitter account roughly ninety minutes before the lift was reportedly felled by strong winds, Sullivan wrote “Gusts of wind up to 60 mph well today will be fun at work … I guess I’ve lived long enough.”
An hour later and shortly before 4:30 p.m. ET, presumably while atop the lift, Sullivan wrote the following: “Holy (expletive) holy (expletive) this is terrifying.”
At 4:50 p.m. ET, the lift tipped over and sent Sullivan to his tragic death on the street below.
On the surface, this appears to be a senseless and unnecessary tragedy. It won’t bring back their son/brother/cousin, but Sullivan’s family deserves forthright and honest answers to the hard questions Notre Dame officials will no doubt be facing in the coming days and weeks.