— Suffolk County News (@SuffolkLINews) August 10, 2017
A day after tragedy struck a Long Island high school on Thursday when a strength-and-conditioning drill at football practice resulted in the death of a 16-year-old player, the community came together to help the player’s family. In just 13 hours, friends and others raised more than $25,000 via a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe for the family of Joshua Mileto, the student killed in what Suffolk police have deemed an accident.
“A group of athletes were performing a drill carrying a log overhead when the log fell and struck [Mileto] … in the head,” Suffolk County police said in a statement (via ABC News) about the incident that occurred at Sachem East High in Farmingville, N.Y.
School district Superintendent Kenneth Graham called the incident a “horrific accident” in a statement posted to the district’s website, adding, “words cannot express the grief we feel as a school community.”
According to CBS New York, the accident occurred around 8:40 a.m. Eastern time as five players ran onto the field holding the log above their heads. Two players apparently fell, however, which resulted in the log hitting the 5-foot-6, 134-pound Mileto.
After the team administered CPR on the field, Mileto was rushed to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
A man named Terry Sorrentino who was at the hospital for separate reasons at the time Mileto was pronounced dead described a heart-wrenching scene on Facebook.
“We came to the Sachem Football [team] crying there [sic] eyes out,” Sorrentino wrote. “I have never [in] all my life seen such a sad thing. Kids crying, punching the wall it was so sad that I can really not describe it. God please help these young children.”
A mother of one of Mileto’s teammates also described her feelings on Facebook (via the New York Daily News).
“This morning (my son) witnessed something that is going to stay with him forever,” Jamie Mendez wrote. “It breaks my heart to see the pain and fear in his eyes knowing this could have been him.”
The event shook the wider community, as well, and calls for prayer and condolences for Mileto’s team, friends and family streamed in on Twitter.
In London but my heart goes out to the Arrow's loved ones especially the Sachem East Football Team. Such a devastating tragedy. RIP
— Maria Michta (@MariaMichta) August 10, 2017
Prayers going out to the friends, family and the sachem east football program ❤️
— Jordan McGinn (@JMcGinn33) August 10, 2017
RIP to the Sachem East Football player who lost his life on the field this morning. All for the love of the game
— Big Evil (@turro_mike) August 10, 2017
Beyond saddened for friends, family, and teammates of sachem east football. Prayers are with you guys
— E.Brust (@EricBrust10) August 10, 2017
“We have enacted our crisis intervention team and support services will be made available to students and staff for as long as needed as we mourn and try to cope with this loss,” Graham said in his statement, adding on Friday that all school and community activities scheduled to occur in district facilities had been canceled. “Please keep the student’s family and loved ones in your thoughts during this difficult time.”