Joshua Mileto was killed Thursday when a log he and other teammates at Sachem East High School were carrying during a training exercise fell and struck him in the head. The accident happened during a preseason conditioning camp at the school.
Teenagers are supposed to be invincible and innocent, carefree. They're not supposed to feel their own mortality. They're not supposed to be wracked by grief. But at Sachem High School East, they're trapped in spiral of sorrow.
The lights this Friday night were for Josh Mileto. He was number 5 on the JV football team. And now in his death he's given the gift of life.
The 16-year-old high school junior was participating in a log drill.
This kind of work with a heavy log is a training exercise borrowed from the Navy Seals and the Marines. It is not easy and requires close supervision.
"You've always got to have the duty expert on deck when you're doing these type of drills. Because anything can happen. Anything can happen. Anybody can get hurt, whatever the case may be," said Tony Hernandez, MSTA-NY.
During a pre-season conditioning camp Thursday morning, Mileto was among several players carrying this log, really a part of a telephone pole, when it shifted and fell on top of him. He died of a massive head injury.
"He's heartbroken. It's one of his best friends," said Steven Dowsett, Sachem East parent.
Dowsett's son was a teammate of Mileto's and watched his friend die.
"They're so hard on those kids it's not even funny. They should not have been doing that exercise. Adults can't even do that exercise and they had 15, 14, 13, 16, 17-year-old kids doing this exercise," Dowsett said.
A public wake will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, August 14, at McManus-Lowery Funeral Home on Horse Block Road in Medford. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church on Portion Road in Holbrook at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, with burial to follow at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Coram.
In lieu of flowers, donations have been requested to be made to the "Joshua Mileto Memorial Scholarship" Fund.
The family posted the following message on Facebook:
"Thank you everyone for all the calls and texts out pouring of love and support from our family, friends and Sachem Community. We are absolutely beyond devastated. We are in no way able to respond or speak to anyone at this point. Please respect our privacy at this difficult time."
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up by friends in the Farmingville community had raised over $48,000 by Friday night.