Visible from inside Notre Dame’s football stadium, the mosaic mural colloquially named “Touchdown Jesus” appears to mirror the raised arms of a referee signaling a score. Muting this celebratory gesture was tragedy on the University of Notre Dame campus on October 27th. On that day, 20-year-old student Declan Sullivan fell from a hydraulic lift while filming the football team’s practice. The day brought freakish weather, including winds exceeding 50 miles per hour.  A gust toppled the portable hydraulic lift that Sullivan had climbed. It was his last ascent. 

As claims people know, though, death is not necessarily the end. There remains the litigation, or at least the prospect of it, amidst tragedy. In the wake of Sullivan’s fatal accident, observers posed various questions, many of which have risk management implications. Why did the university let Sullivan climb a lift in windy weather? Why didn’t the team practice indoors?  Shouldn’t a prudent adult have intervened to keep Sullivan from ascending? Sullivan’s Facebook page displayed comments reflecting this trepidation; did he have any personal responsibility in making the judgment to climb? 

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