SOUTH BEND -- The silence between prepared statements would suggest the last teardrop rolled weeks, even months, ago.
Those close to Barry Sullivan and wife Dr. Alison Drumm Sullivan don’t confuse their patience and pragmatism with lack of emotion when it comes to the tragic accident Oct. 27 that truncated a life so full of promise and possibilities.
The life of their 20-year-old son, Declan Sullivan.
By all accounts, the student videographer from Long Grove, Ill., who left this world that blustery afternoon when the scissor lift he was filming Notre Dame football practice from toppled onto Courtney Lane, wanted to change the world and had the heart and guts to do it.
He still may change the world.
It’s up to Notre Dame to see that it happens.
If there’s such a thing as a best-case scenario in the aftermath of something so tragic, it’s that moving forward Notre Dame would serve as the template for high school and college athletic departments everywhere when it comes to safety decisions.
In conversations with family spokesman Mike Miley and with prominent members of the Notre Dame family in its alumni network, that is the prevailing theme.
Now, just what would that look like?
What it doesn’t look like is necessarily a call for someone’s head. It’s all about change. Changing a culture.
Specifically, it’s about having more than one voice of reason in a potential crisis situation.
In the 371 pages of largely benign documents the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration released earlier this week in its investigation of Sullivan’s death, there were some scattered telling statements in the depositions taken by investigator Jerry Marquell.
In particular, the words of fellow videographer Michael Frank jumped off the page:
“When I walked into the office, I was informed by Tim Collins that we would be practicing outside contrary to his judgment.”
Tim Collins, the video coordinator for the football team and an ND employee for more than 20 years, contradicts that statement about the events of that fateful date in his own deposition.
Investigator: At any time on October 27th 2010 did you personally (sic) feel that you should not use the lifts?
Collins: No. I monitored the weather till (sic) we went out and felt we were in a safe range to use the lifts.
Another student videographer, Courtney Haddick, said: “I got to work about 2:45 p.m. like every day and we met in the film room ... There was a little joking about how windy it was, but, yes just a regular day.”
The range of opinions regarding what the wind was like on the afternoon of Oct. 27 -- a day in which wind advisory warnings had been issued early in the morning until 9 p.m. -- was troubling in its inconsistency.
Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly -- referred to as Bryan Kelley in some of the documents -- stated: “It was a beautiful day it (sic) was 68 degrees and I remember looking up at 11:54 a.m. and the wind was 22 miles per hour.”