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Notre Dame begins investigation of tower collapse death

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Notre Dame student dies filming practice
  • NEW: University, Indiana OSHA will conduct investigation
  • Winds were blowing up to 51 mph at the time of the accident
  • Sullivan worked for the athletics department
  • The hydraulic scissor lift he was standing on fell over

(CNN) -- The investigation into the death of a college student who fell from a camera tower during a University of Notre Dame football practice will look at wind conditions and protocols, officials said.

"We need to make sure we understood all the dynamics that played throughout the day," said athletics director Jack Swarbrick, adding he expects the South Bend, Indiana, school to learn some lessons that might prevent a recurrence.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration will assist in the investigation, which will include a reconstruction of the accident.

Notre Dame will hold a special Mass Thursday evening in memory of Declan Sullivan, 20, who died Wednesday afternoon when the scaffolding toppled in strong winds.

Sullivan, a junior from Long Grove, Illinois, was filming the college's football team practice day as part of his job with the athletics department, the university said.

"Practice was normal. Plays were being conducted with no difficulty," said Swarbrick, who said he arrived at the practice field minutes before the incident. A sudden gust of wind sent up equipment and other material just before he heard the crash, Swarbrick said.

The hydraulic scissor lift Sullivan was standing on fell over at the LaBar Practice Complex. He died shortly afterward, the school said.

Winds were gusting up to 51 mph at the time of the accident, the National Weather Service said.

"No words can convey the shock and grief we all are experiencing," said the college president, the Rev. John Jenkins.

He plans to preside over the Mass, which is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. The university said it has made pastoral care and grief counseling available to students.

"Declan was a well-liked, bright and enthusiastic film and marketing student, and a valued member of the Notre Dame family."

The university decided that Saturday's home game against Tulsa University will go on, but a Friday pep rally has been canceled.

"It's an opportunity to honor Declan," Swarbrick said of the game. "We will wear decals on our helmets that reflect Declan as a member of our family."

CNN's Anna Gonzalez contributed to this report