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.