In a world that’s often focused on blame — and shifting it from place to place — it’s refreshing to see the head of an organization come forward and say, “I’m responsible for our employee’s death.”
The Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, has taken responsibility for the death of 20-year-old Declan Sullivan, a student videographer killed while standing on a hydraulic lift to record football practice.
“Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe,” Jenkins wrote in an e-mail to students, faculty, staff and alumni. “We at Notre Dame and ultimately I, as President, are responsible. Words cannot express our sorrow to the Sullivan family and to all involved.”
Sullivan was killed on Oct. 27 when the lift he was on toppled over. Winds were recorded at 51 m.p.h. at the time.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the university are investigating.
The state is looking at whether safety regulations were broken, such as:
- a rule barring workers from using elevated platforms during storms or high winds, and
- whether Sullivan received training before using the scissor lift.
Sullivan sent two Twitter messages regarding the situation that day before the lift fell over.
He wrote, “Gusts of wind up to 60 miles an hour. Well today will be fun at work. I guess I’ve lived long enough.”
Then, just before the lift toppled, “This is terrifying.”