Seaford High School student dies in Los Angeles

February 21, 2013 2:45:39 PM PST
A Long Island teenager has mysteriously died during a school trip to Los Angeles.

Joseph Tutaj was a sophomore at Seaford High School.

He traveled to LA with the school's marching band and died there Tuesday after he was hospitalized with a high fever.

His classmates left Seaford High School Thursday afternoon, many of them, still too shaken to discuss it.

But Eyewitness News has learned that Joseph Tutaj had been hospitalized twice during the marching band's field trip to Los Angeles.

Although an autopsy is not yet complete, his father believes an infection is the most likely cause.

"He was going to be an Eagle Scout," said Robert Tutaj, "He was an avid musician and a computer whiz. He was loved by everybody. He was the light of my life. I'm completely distraught."

The band was scheduled to leave Seaford one week ago for a six-day, school-sponsored trip.

His family says Joseph was hospitalized at UCLA Medical Center, only after he had been discharged from another hospital in Santa Monica.

The details of his condition, or the precise treatment he received, could not be confirmed late Thursday afternoon.

"Hospital officials have confirmed that the student's illness was not contagious," said the schools superintendent, "However, school officials, along with the student's family, are in the process of obtaining the medical details that led up to this unspeakable tragedy."

Neighbors say the pain for both his father and mother are unimaginable.

"My heart really goes out to the mother and the rest of the family because I just can't believe how much of a heavy burden she's bearing at the moment. I don't think anybody should have to go through that," said Greg Jaffe, a neighbor.

Adding to the tragedy, his father told Eyewitness News that he himself is suffering from stage four cancer.

The family was displaced from their Seaford home after Superstorm Sandy.

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