Questions About Drill Arise After 11th-Grader Is Killed in ‘Horrific' Accident on Football Field

Joshua Mileto, 16, was hit in the head by a log athletes were carrying over their heads as part of a strength and conditioning exercise

What to Know

  • Joshua Mileto, 16, was hit in the head by a log athletes were carrying over their heads as part of a strength and conditioning exercise
  • He died at a hospital a short time later; the school district called it a "horrific accident"
  • In a Facebook post late Thursday, Mileto's mother said the family was too devastated to speak and asked for privacy

Some athletic trainers are questioning the efficacy of a football drill in which an 11th-grade Long Island student was killed Thursday as his family prepares funeral arrangements for the teen. 

Sixteen-year-old Josh Mileto had been participating in a strength and conditioning camp on the Sachem East High School field in Farmingville Thursday morning when he was struck in the head by a log the athletes were carrying during an exercise. 

He was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

His mother said he was an organ donor, writing on Facebook Friday: "Received the phone call very early this morning for the transplant team, any and all viable options were completed, my sweet, sweet baby boy. You continue to be selfless and I couldn't be more proud of you my love. Remember, Mommy loves you." 

Meanwhile, questions about his death were continuing to pile up Friday. Some wondered why the teens were doing a drill that U.S. Navy photos show is more commonly used in military training. 

Billy Rom, a certified trainer of high school athletes, says the log drill wasn't appropriate for teens. 

"I wouldn't choose it as an exercise in my strength and conditioning program because the risk-reward is not there," he said. 

But if Rom thinks the drill is problematic, it apparently broke no rules. The head of New York's Public High School Athletics Association told News 4 there are no rules and regulations pertaining to conditioning drills. Schools themselves determine which they want to use. 

But Rom maintains, "If you're trying to make your athletes better athletes and teach them toughness and how to work harder, I think there are better choices." 

Six coaches were on hand when Mileto was injured, police have said. A spokesperson for Sachem schools said the district is reviewing what happened, but stressed the camp was run by the Sachem East Touchdown Club. 

The school district said in a statement Thursday it was "devastated by this horrific accident and words cannot express the grief we feel as a school community." 

"We extend our deepest condolences to the student's family and friends during this terribly difficult time," the statement continued. "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." 

The Sachem East Touchdown Club president didn't respond to News 4's inquiries Friday but the club is sponsoring a GoFundMe page for Mileto's family. 

An investigation into the accident is ongoing. 

Mileto's mother thanked supporters, saying on Facebook, "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. Thank you everyone for all the calls and texts out pouring of love and support from our family, friends and Sachem Community."

The wake for Mileto is set to be held at the McManus-Lowery Funeral Home in Medford on Monday, his mother posted on Facebook. A private, family-only service is being held Sunday.

Services will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Holbrook on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. Mileto will be buried afterward at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Coram. 

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