I don't know if heads should necessarily roll but this is going to be a huge PR loss for ND. We live in a blame-oriented culture in which people are routinely held accountable for things beyond their control. As Lenore Skenazy has said, we now live in a society that no longer believes in accidents. This is a good and a bad thing. But, in this case, the relevant decisions seem that they actually were very much in the hands of Kelly/ Swarbrick/some other guy and those decisions led directly to the death of this kid. It was an accident, for sure, but certainly someone was negligent. We'll find out, at some point, exactly who and how but neither Kelly and Swarbrick can come away with clean hands here.
OT: Whitlock Calls for Kelly's Head in Student Death
Whitlock says. That tragedy was one of gross negligence.I think Swarbrick should as well. His reaction is ridiculous.
Someone died because these fools were not paying attention. That to me indicates a leadership that is not up to the responsibility of leading.
I think people are looking for someone to blame for the senseless death of Declan Sullivan, but sometimes events like this happen and nobody is at fault. Yes, Kelly probably should have kept practice indoors on that day, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I'm sure other coaches would/did hold outdoor practices in similar conditions. It was a horrific wind storm, more similar to a hurricane than anything you see on land, and in a confluence of events someone died. My heart goes out to the family
I'm fine with people connected to the problem lashing out a bit as a way to cope, but for Whitlock to act outraged as a means to gain some page hits (and don't doubt for a second that this is a major reason for this position) is depressing. Whitlock has a history of generating inflammatory articles to stir controversy so I'm not surprised, but trying to create a villain where none existed shows just how little sense of journalism Whitlock applied to this article.
It didn't take a horrific wind storm to bring down the lift. It was rated for 25 mph; 50 mph was probably more than enough. I respect your opinion, but I think you're being diverted by the author of the article (whom I don't know or care about) being inflammatory. An unsecured large lift in high winds undoubtedly looks unsafe to many people, so it's not like this was impossible to see coming.
I'm not calling for Kelly's head yet or anything like that, but we would be doing the dead student a disservice if we just tried to move on and pretend it was just a freak accident.
But everyone has pointed out that the storm that led to this type of wind was the most destructive in recent memory. Honestly, I don't care who wrote the article (I actually think Whitlock does take some interesting stances on issues), but the idea that Kelly should be canned for a decision that was only somewhat in his control (I doubt he made the choice to not moor the tower) is illogical. Someone died and that should be mourned, but acting with faux moral indignation isn't helping anyone.
Michigan said its lifts are grounded if wind gusts reach 28 mph. On Tuesday, Michigan was filmed with lifts at 15-20 feet.
Michigan already has a policy in place and takes precautions in windy weather. In light of both that and Tressel's comments, ND football needs to take significant heat for its institutional negligence. How can nobody with authority exhibit even the tiniest shred of common sense in extraordinary weather?
Yes Whitlock is a troll. Yes he says things just to get people fired up. Yes he generally has no valuable opinion about anything.
But someone died here. And all the facts point toward someone being grossly negligent. This wasn't an act of God, malfunctioning crane lift. This was a young kid up in a rickety contraption in crazy weather conditions when he didn't have to be up there.
Point being, Whitlock's got a point in this case. It makes me feel dirty as much as the next guy, but I think all the disagreement on the board shows that he's not too far off in his assessment of the situation. For once.
and find a way to pass it off as an accident.
Can't do it. I have been that guy - the one responsible for telling people to go move or work on heavy things at heights while also being responsible for production and other bits of reality. The first consideration has to be for safety. I'm sorry, it might not be his fault, but it is his responsibility. The AD? I have no words strong enough to convey my disgust. At best, I could only hope he was speaking while he was still gripped by the emotion of the event.
If he's not worried about his qb (likely concussion against us) why would he be concerned about the cameraman? Not saying he put them in harms way intentionally, but the lack of concern for their well being is a problem.
What gets me is the amount of time he was up there. Sulivan sent that "this is terrifying" tweet 45 MINUTES before the accident. It would have been bad enough if they had him up there in those conditions for a few minutes, realized that the damn thing was swaying like a metronome, and pulled his ass back to earth. But that they left him up there for that long boggles the mind.
I don't know if Kelly should be fired (though I think probably not)... but he is partially to blame, and should have known better.
or the actual area of Kelly's responsibility. Someone screwed up big time in sending a kid up in 50 mph winds. But was that even Kelly's call?
Agree that Swarbrick's pre-emptive statement re: the sudden gust seems maladroit.
I'd like to preface my comment by saying I have followed coach Kelly from the time he was at GVSU. I love his coaching style and the way his football teams have played. With that said, what happened to that student is inexcusable. The only reason Kelly hasn't been fired yet is because big time football has a disproportionate importance in today's society, and that's coming from someone who never misses a Michigan game.
I'm beginning to think someone's ghost writing for Whitlock. He's an arrogant SOB and I never used to like his articles, but lately it seems like he's found a moral compass, and whether you agree or disagree with his takes, he's been consistent lately.
This is why Whitlock is the best columnist in the country. A provocative, creative and well reasoned column like usual.
There must be two Whitlocks.
Between this and putting Christ back in after not being able to se out of one eye for half the game, Brian Kelly has shown that he only has regard for Brian Kelly. I am further convinced every day he is a Class A Scumbag pretending to be a D1 coach.
Notre Dame, they would have won for sure. Even with one eye.
To the "it's an accident" crowd - no. Accidents still exist in our society. They happen when a person/group/entity was not negligent in taking the proper precautions. No one is held liable and life goes on as normal. The standard is usually fairly murky and it requires a jury and resort to testimony regarding what is standard industry protocol and the like.
Here, it's clear - someone was negligent and perhaps reckless. The standard is a bright line rule--25 MPH is too dangerous--and the wind was double that. If the victim's estate takes the proper people to court they will be liable.
Say what you want about the doctrine of respondeat superior (usually holding people at the top liable for rank and file employees' negligence), but if you looked at the policy considerations closely, most of you would agree with the rule. Just a few of the reasons:
- Policies are developed at the top and implemented by the employees. Holding the people carrying out the orders liable rather than the person giving the orders is insane.
- The greater the position, the greater the responsibility. Obvious.
- The rule promotes safety. Without te rule, leaders simply would shut themselves off from the rest of the enterprise's operations because not knowing would mean not being held liable. This rule forced employers to consider risks and how to guard against them before they happen. If the injury is still not foreseeable they are not liable because foreseeability is a necessary element of negligence. Without the rule the incentive is to bury your head in the sand and let the workers fend for themselves.
- Judgment-proof defendants. Injured plaintiffs will not be able to recover anything if the only people they are allowed to sue are people with nothing to their name. Less incentives to consume goods and services because you could get injured and have no recourse.
- No disincentive to work. Without this rule, workers would be more afraid to take on jobs and particularly risky jobs, for 2 reasons: if they screw up they will be sued and lose everything, and they cannot be assured that the company has their safety in mind.
Something to think about. As per usual, the people making the legal rules and common law are pretty damn smart.
It appears there is no uniformity of thought nationwide as to the use of these lifts:
I think every program is going to have to re-evaluate their policies in light of this tragic death.
Penn State and Michigan said their lifts are grounded if wind gusts reach 28 mph. On Tuesday and Wednesday, when much of the Midwest was being swept by winds much higher than that, the Wolverines football team practiced with lifts at 15-20 feet.
I have to agree with the "not an accident" crowd. Whether in the military, construction, manufacturing or any other business, especially one involving youth safety is first,. In all cases implementing effective safety procedures is cultural and culture, or lack thereof, is the responsibility of the boss.
The fact of the matter is that 100+ people watched a kid up on a scissor-lift in gusting winds. Hell, people are smart enough to secure bookshelves to studs to prevent toppling, yet not one person was smart enough to question the wisdom of this activity?
Perhaps there were appropriate safety procedures in place, perhaps the proper personnel were trained in the operation and limitations of a piece of equipment that can quite reasonably be seen to be dangerous. What I do know is that if my son played or was being recruited to play football for Notre Dame, I'd be asking some serious questions about every risk management policy that Coach Kelly and the athletic department have in place, from whether the dorms have sprinkler systems to what mitigation measures are in place to prevent a Korey Stringer incident.
I agree that someone should have taken the blame for this. However, that doesn't mean the coach should be aware of EVERYTHING happening. I'm in the Navy, so I'll use one of those metaphors.
The USS Washington had to go to port last year for an engine failure. The ship has about 5,000 people on it, around 100 of whom, at any time, are around the engine. There is a strict chain of command: the grunts do the fixing, the Dviision Officer checks to make sure that's ok, and up and up until the Commanding Officer (CO). The engine blows out. Who's fault is it? Technically the CO should know everything that happens on the ship and is responsible for it; he is, after all, responsible for and in charge of everything. Does the CO get fired for a mistake that 10 people made on a 5,000 man ship?* No. While a HC is like a CO in that they should know everything, they simply can't.
*His carreer is ruined, but that's a navy standard, and not a Coaching thing.
I just finished watching the mass that ND held for Declan last night. Too sad, but seeing the support from the entire campus community was extremely moving. Seeing his family was just heartbreaking, though. I've decided I'm not going to comment on anything related to this incident for a while out of respect for his family. If he were my brother/son, I wouldn't like reading stranger's comments about this tragic situation. Hopefully others think about this before they speculate and voice their own opinions.
If the winds were bad the day before and that day as well; Kelly knew it, knew of the dangers involved, looked at the scared kid and said "Well son, it's time to earn your keep today, what price are you willing to pay for the irish?", and knowlingly sent him into a life threatening situation because he is a win at all costs freak and could care less about people's safety and lives than his win loss record.... then he is a douche, no, well beyond a douche in words i can't curretnly express, and should never coach again ever for any reason.
Part of me pictures it that way, mostly because of my opinions of Brian Kelly as a man and a coach. Part of me realizes it could also be something much less damning and innocent or naieve on Kelly's pat, but the fact of the matter is, we won't know unless this is fully investigated, and even then... we probably still won't really know.
In the end, this is a tragic shame and my prayers are with this young man's family, God bless them in these trying times.
I think the kid's parents certainly have grounds for a suit against ND, but I'm not sure how much blame to assign to any one person. As football coach, Kelly may nominally have been in charge, but is it realistic to expect the coach, who has a thousand other things to keep track of, to make decisions about whether or not the scissor lift is to be used? I see it more as a general institutional failure than one specifically on Kelly's part. Oversight of the scissor lifts probably should be delegated to some kind of safety official, instead of basically leaving it up to the kid.
I found this on an ND site. Note the waiver agreement on page 13 (which even contains a grimly ominous typo):
It seems like ND officials did not recognize the general danger involved in using this equipment. The kid apparently wasn't even offered any training in its use. If this is typical of how schools approach this, it's a wonder we haven't had more accidents.
From the Whitlock peice,
“Things started flying by me that otherwise had been stationary for all of practice,” Swarbrick said. “Gatorade containers, towels, etc. I noticed the netting on the goal posts start to bend dramatically, and I heard a crash.”
I really feel bad for everyone involved with this, but i think if Swarbrick was there as well he should certainly shoulder some of the blame.
I find it strange that such an obviously dangerous situation wasnt questioned by anyone else attending practice.
i apologize if someone has said something similar, but i haven't ready th 150 posts.
this was, indeed, a tragedy, but to blame kelly, well, we need the facts to come out. my point is this - the head coach has countless things to worry about, mainly those preparing for the upcoming game. tell me how far down the totem poll is "hey, we will have a guy filming on a platform today, we should tell him to hold off". i mean, that job is a second-nature afterthought job. who could proactively stop that, except for the kid himself or his immediate superior.
unless, during the practice, kelly, the coaches, and players saw the kid up there, noticed it was dangerous, and did nothing about it. i doubt that happened. i think it was just a "take it for granted' type job, but will be taken for granted no more. unfortuneately.
Do I think the ND head coach and AD should be fired for poor decision-making that may or may not have contributed to a student's death? Hmmm...
It's remarkably stupid that someone didn't think that maybe 50+ mph winds are terrible conditions to video something way up in the air. That's more than a minor brain fart.
It's remarkably stupid that ND didn't appear to have a better policy and training regarding scissor lifts. What other machines are they using without proper safety training? Further, what if there had been additional bystanders in the way. If the scissor lift had landed on 12 people and killed 7, what then?
On the flip side, I don't expect administrators and coaches to be able to do everything at once and know the OSHA operating standards for every apparatus on the field or in the gym.
In the final analysis, I guess it depends how tolerant you are of stupidity and if you think that you could accurately identify the candidate(s) that would have averted the tragedy before it happened. Yeah, I'd rather have Jim Tressel than Brian Kelly as a head coach, but so would everybody else.
Brian Kelly's job is to run practice. The buck stops with him. He's cognizant of the weather conditions for his team. He wants a student in a high lift filming practice.
He can put two and two together. He did it the day before.
In my opinion, he is entirely liable. He was at the practice, he knew the conditions, and he moved forward anyway. He'll, HE CONTINUED PRACTICING!
With everything guys like Vector and others who have been up there (and feel the pressure to be up there) have said. It is scary up there.
And when the weather is bad, you're LUCKY if all you get is horrible frostbite from bare hands working the camera. I was worried INSIDE the other night when it hit that something was going to fall on my house. Being in that thing is just unimaginable to be in those conditions.
Kelly sent that student employee up there, knowing full well what the weather was. Kelly makes huge amounts of money to be in charge, he was in charge, he killed that student.
Just to crap on the memory of the student he killed, Kelly kept the practice going. Kelly should be fired, and be banned for life from any college employment.