UPDATE: Seaford HS Student Dies Suddenly

15-year-old Joseph Tutaj was traveling on a school-sponsored trip to Southern California when he was transported to hospital after complaining of a fever.

The Seaford School District announced Wednesday afternoon that a 15-year-old male student died while traveling with the Seaford High School Band on a school-sponsored trip to Southern California.

Superintendent Brian Conboy has identified the teen as Joseph Tutaj. 

District officials said the student was transported by ambulance to a California hospital after complaining of a fever and feeling too ill to fly home.

"Hospital officials have confirmed that the student’s illness was not contagious," the district said in a statement. "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. The district is offering grief counseling services for students and families, and asks that your thoughts and prayers be with the family at this very difficult time."

According to Newsday:

The student's father, Robert Tutaj, 56, who is battling stage four cancer, described his 6-foot, 2-inch-tall son as a "gentle giant" who had worked hard to support his family during a difficult period in their lives.

The Tutajes were flooded out of their Seaford home during superstorm Sandy and have been living temporarily in Bethpage.

Markymark February 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM
This is just so sad! Prayers go out to the family. RIP!
Cindy Duwe February 21, 2013 at 12:53 AM
So sad my prayers are with the family. RIP
michelle kemp February 21, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Thoughts and prayers for this family for so many reasons! May God guide you through!
Cara s February 21, 2013 at 02:00 AM
Prayers to this family. I recently met a family member and I know from many this boy was beautiful inside and out . God will keep this sweet boy with all his Angels. Rip always
Julie S February 21, 2013 at 02:35 AM
Thank you Diane M. This is a terrible tragedy on top of everything this family has already gone through! A collection will be set up. At this time the family is trying to arrange to bring Joseph back to New York.
Terri February 21, 2013 at 02:50 AM
This is just so sad, my heart breaks for them. I will pray for them.
Debbie February 21, 2013 at 02:51 AM
My heart grieves with this family. How can we help?
Lorraine DeVita February 21, 2013 at 02:52 AM
There are no words when a parents heart is shattered - may god give you strength and peace . Another Angel has been given his wings....... too soon ..
Maria Brazius February 21, 2013 at 02:54 AM
He was a sweet well mannered kind boy. It is such a loss to his family and our community. My heart and prayers go out to his family and poor father battling stagr four cancer. Please dear lord help them find some peace
Daniel ingoglia February 21, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Danny I I own a printshop in farmingdale any printing flyers raffle tickets anything you need let me know I will donate email me at henway7@ aol.com thoughts and prays to the family
Patricia February 21, 2013 at 03:20 AM
I can't even stop crying as I hear more about what this family has endured and now this. Such a sweet boy. May he rest in peace and send comfort to his family.
Mark Froloff February 21, 2013 at 03:26 AM
My heart is sad. Some things can't be explained. Condolences to the family.
J Restaino February 21, 2013 at 03:37 AM
This is so awful...my heart is breaking for this family xo - a fellow seaford parent
The Zedalis Family February 21, 2013 at 03:53 AM
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Tutaj family. So sorry for this terrible loss. May you find strength in the support of your friends and family.
T. February 21, 2013 at 05:00 AM
My heart goes out to the family..
GP February 21, 2013 at 05:21 AM
My prayers are with you during this very difficult time - A fellow seaford parent - G P
Sandi February 21, 2013 at 01:56 PM
I myself have lost a teenage child and there is no pain worse. I prey that God gives them strength & comfort as he has given me & my family since the death if our daughter on 9/22/10. This poor family has alreafy been so my and this is just tragic. From one grieving parent to another...take life one day at a time and talk as much as your heart wants to about Joseph and dont worry about sounding repetative.Talking really helps.
Cary Rachell February 21, 2013 at 02:21 PM
So much pain in one family. We can all relate. He was a great kid, a real contributor. Marching band and boy scouts. A great loss. I hope someone local sets up a fund so my family can contribute.
Joe February 21, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Heaven has a new trumpeter; Joe will be looking down on his family, he will always be there in spirit.
Maria Brazius February 21, 2013 at 04:22 PM
If there is fundraiser please contact,me. My son Thomas Flynn was a friend of him and I had the honor of meeting Joe on several occassions. He was a sweet good hearted boy. My heart breaks for him and his family and friends. Then his poor dad fighting stage four cancer. We really need to join together as a community and do something for them.
Dotti Bartlett February 21, 2013 at 04:42 PM
I can not comprehend what the family is going through... As a mother of a student who graduated in 94 and went on all the band trips......You can never imagine this as an ending... Please let the residents of Seaford know of any fund that is set up to assist the family...
Linda LaSala DiPasquale February 21, 2013 at 05:36 PM
my heart goes out to this poor family. may God comfort them and keep them in his arms
Stephanie Montefusco February 21, 2013 at 05:51 PM
This is so terrible. Please find a way to let people in Seaford/Wantagh as to what we can do to help. Thank you to the Farmingdale printer who offered his services.
Deb February 21, 2013 at 06:44 PM
My heart goes out to this family. They are in my prayers. (SHS band '91 alumni)
M M February 21, 2013 at 07:48 PM
I'm so sorry for your loss. Another SHS family.
Don February 21, 2013 at 09:53 PM
There is a prayer service tonight for Joseph at Saint William's in Seaford. 7 pm.
Diane M February 21, 2013 at 10:36 PM
The kids fundraise for the trips. It sounds like it could have happened anywhere, home, somewhere on LI, etc.
BeeKay February 21, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Wow, after attempting to decipher your grammar and writing structure, I was left with two thoughts. Ignorance and, more importantly, insensitivity. It's sad that you thought your post was worth putting out there so soon after a tragedy. As far as I know, these trips are paid for by the students' themselves (with fundraisers used to help offset the cost). My sister was in the SHS band and went to Hawaii in the mid 90s and I remember my parents saving money in advance to foot the bill. And for the most part, these trips are scheduled during recesses (obviously Sandy affected this, but I'm assuming the trip was non-refundable). So what is your point/concern, and why raise it now? Have you voiced your concern at BoE meetings, or are you a cyber-complainer. I'm guessing the latter.
Susan February 22, 2013 at 01:17 AM
Children go on these trips because it is an opportunity of a lifetime for many ...and creates memories....I know it was for my son (class of 2010) who loved being a member of the Seaford HS band and got to visit Hawaii and Florida while a band member...Seaford has a wonderful and talented music department....this was just a terrible, terrible tragedy...my heart breaks for the Tutaj family....I can't imagine what this family is going through....from all I read and heard...the parents raised an amazing son who will be missed....RIP Joseph....
carol pascale February 22, 2013 at 01:31 AM
God Bless this family,you are in my prayers.Just as a suggestion if you do not hear of a fundraiser or benefit you can always give money to the funeral home to help defray costs or hand it to the Mom at services in a card.


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