Sorry, but I still can't be as forgiving

Updated 3/16/2011 11:08 PM

So now it's official.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the University of Notre Dame at fault in the death of Long Grove resident Declan Sullivan.


Sullivan, a Notre Dame student and paid videographer, died Oct. 27 while shooting a Fighting Irish football practice.

A hydraulic lift collapsed in stiff winds and Sullivan plunged to his death.

Tuesday, as back then, the Sullivan family issued a statement remarkably composed and measured in response to the IOSHA finding.

The Sullivans expressed gratitude for Notre Dame's support and were confident that the university is taking steps to ensure such tragedies never occur again at ND.

No one has a right be outraged at Notre Dame if the Sullivans aren't.

The only thing the rest of us can do is imagine how we would react to the loss of a loved one in a similar manner.

That's what I'm trying to do, and I keep feeling what I felt back in October: Vengeful.

What struck me most about the OSHA conclusion is that Notre Dame was fined $77,500 for the preventable workplace fatality.

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So that's the price to be paid for failing to protect Declan Sullivan, $77,500 for six violations?

Sorry, but I still can't be as forgiving as the Sullivan family is. Their response has been admirable and perhaps mine would be deplorable.

But I'm not a big enough person to say, "We are grateful for the respect shown us over the past several months by everyone connected with Notre Dame. The University has maintained an open line of communication throughout this period and has provided timely answers to our questions."

Maybe the Sullivans believe that Notre Dame officials will suffer enough by having to live the rest of their lives with knowing their part in costing Declan Sullivan his.

I doubt that would be enough for me if I lost someone dear in an incident that OSHA says could have been prevented.

Nothing could be done now to bring my dearly departed back from the dead. But my forgiveness has limits, and the responsible party would have to lose more than $77,500 and some sleep over the tragedy.


Don't ask me to put a price on it. Heck, what price do you put on any life, much less one that's 20 years old and as promising as Declan Sullivan's was?

This probably is just me being me -- because it certainly isn't the Sullivans being them -- but I would explore the merits of a lawsuit.

Then I would hope that I would take anything the courts awarded me and start a scholarship fund in the deceased's name.

Beyond that, I would want Notre Dame officials to determine who specifically was to blame. Then I would demand that the persons who didn't properly train the victim and the ones who allowed him to be up on that lift in dangerous conditions, well, they all would lose their jobs.

Someone like the university president or athletic director or football coach or all of them would have to suffer dearly for my suffering.

Somebody at Notre Dame would have to pay a stiffer penalty than $77,500 and a guilty conscience.

As I indicated back in October, Notre Dame is blessed that the Sullivans are better people than I ever could be under these circumstances.

Especially now that OSHA has ruled the way it ruled.