SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As the Notre Dame football team drilled on its practice field, Declan Sullivan stood high above the turf in a hydraulic lift, videotaping the session so players could get an aerial view of their performance.
Suddenly, the wind, already whipping so much that Sullivan tweeted that it was "terrifying," surged as high as 51 mph.
The lift toppled over, crashing through a fence before coming to rest in a street just behind a goal post.
"Things started flying by me that had been stationary for all of practice — Gatorade containers, towels," Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick recalled Thursday, a day after the accident. "I noticed the netting by the goal post start to bend dramatically, and I heard a crash."
Sullivan, a junior film student from the Chicago suburb of Long Grove, Ill., was taken to a hospital, but Swarbrick said he received a call from the ambulance before it arrived saying that the 20-year-old was not breathing. The young man was soon pronounced dead.
Most such lifts extend to about 40 feet, but Swarbrick said he did not know how high Sullivan was when the machine fell over, and it was unclear who authorized Sullivan to go up in it.
rdinator associated with the football team. Swarbrick said the decision to practice outdoors is left up to individual athletic programs.
A workplace safety expert said the lift should never have been used in such blustery conditions.
The university pledged to review its policy for using the lifts.
"We're going to look at how it was done this day," Swarbrick said, adding that at least one other student was in a lift at the same time as Sullivan.
Just before the practice began, Sullivan posted Twitter messages in which he said "Gusts of wind up to 60 mph today will be fun at work ... I guess I've lived long enough."
Less than an hour before the accident, he tweeted again, saying it was "terrifying" to be on the tower in the high winds.
Ellie Hall, another Notre Dame film student who had friends in common with Sullivan, told The Associated Press in an e-mail that she was "horrified" by the "eerily prophetic nature" of the tweets, which she captured in a screen shot and later described in a contribution to the Huffington Post.
Within hours of Sullivan's death, his family made his Facebook profile, and the messages, private, Hall said.
Swarbrick said he was aware of the tweets and promised to look into "all the dynamics" that preceded Sullivan's death.