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Notre Dame Fined $77.5K In Student's Death

UPDATED 03/15/11 5:13 p.m.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CBS) -- The University of Notre Dame has been fined $77,500 in the death of 20-year-old student Declan Sullivan, who was killed when a hydraulic lift fell.

Sullivan, a student videographer, was killed Oct. 27 of last year, when a scissor lift he was on toppled over while he was filming football practice. The National Weather Service reported gusts of up to 51 mph at the time.

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Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Lori Torres said Tuesday that the school will be fined $55,000 for knowingly exposing Sullivan and two other videographers to unsafe conditions, and $22,500 for five other violations.

"We found Notre Dame did not establish and maintain conditions of work that were reasonably safe for its employees," Torres said. "By directing its untrained student videographers to use the scissor lifts during a period of time when the National Weather Service had issued an active wind advisory for northern Indiana, the university knowingly exposed its employees to unsafe conditions."

As CBS 2's Suzanne Le Mignot reports, after the fines were announced, Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins issued a statement that said, in part: "We will study the details very carefully and take the actions necessary to protect the ongoing safety of our students and staff."

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

Last week, the university said they will no longer mount students on hydraulic lifts to videotape football practice. University officials said from now on, a remote video system will be used to tape practices.

The university says four cameras are being placed atop 50-foot-high poles. The system will be ready when spring practice opens March 23.

Sullivan, of Long Grove, tweeted his fears about the danger of the wind within an hour of his death.

"Gusts of wind up to 60mph well today will be fun at work... I guess I've lived long enough :-/" Sullivan wrote in one post on Twitter and Facebook.

The sarcasm stopped about an hour later, when he wrote, "Holy f--- holy f--- this is terrifying."

Sullivan's family issued a statement saying that they were focused on make sure a similar tragedy never happens again.

"Our family supports the efforts by the University of Notre Dame to halt the use of hydraulic lifts to film football practices and install remote-controlled cameras. We are confident that Notre Dame will address the additional issues raised in the IOSHA report," they said.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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