A 16-year-old high school football player from New York died during a practice drill on Thursday morning in what has been described as a freak accident that saw a log being used in the routine fall onto the teen’s head.
Joshua Mileto, a junior at Sachem East High School in Long Island, was holding a 10-foot log above his head alongside four of his teammates when the massive piece of wood fell, New York Daily News reported. Emergency workers rushed him to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Classmates and community members took to Facebook to describe the nightmarish scene, which has devastated Mileto’s teammates and prompted the school district to provide grief counselors for affected students.
“This morning (my son) witnessed something that is going to stay with him forever,” wrote Jamie Mendez, the mother of one of Mileto’s teammates. “It breaks my heart to see the pain and fear in his eyes knowing that this could have been him.”
Police classified the incident as a tragic accident after interviewing the 16 coaches and trainers who were present at the practice, which was an off-season condition session for the varsity and junior varsity teams.
Superintendent Kenneth Graham canceled all school-related activities in the wake of the accident and lamented Mileto’s untimely death.
“The district is devastated by this horrific accident and words cannot express the grief we feel as a school community,” he said. “We extend our deepest condolences to the student’s family and friends during this terribly difficult time.”
Now, parents are starting to question whether the drill – which is employed by the Navy SEALS – should even have been performed by teenagers.
“I’ve never heard of it,” said longtime coach Dan Santini, who once served as president of New York’s High School Coaches Association. “I don’t even know why I would have the players do such a thing.”