Seaford, LI – A Long Island teenager died suddenly during a trip to Disneyland with the school band. Joseph Tutaj, 15, complained of a fever shortly before he died. Tutaj and 80 members of the Seaford High School band were enjoying the trip to the theme park before tragedy struck. Tutaj played the trumpet.
Joseph Tutaj was too sick to fly home, the New York Daily News reports. The Long Island teenager was transported to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he later died. The illness was not caused by something contagious, Newsday notes.
Seaford School District Superintendent Brian Conboy had this to say about the student’s death during the Disneyland band trip:
“It’s devastating news. It was a terrible shock for the entire community and we’re going to do our best to support Joseph’s family. It’s a pretty senseless and unspeakable tragedy.”
The Tutaj family has faced many hurdles recently. Robert Tutaj, Joseph’s father, is combating late stage cancer. The Long Island family was also displaced after Hurricane Sandy. The teenager’s family is currently trying to determine the details of the untimely death.
Robert Tutaj, 56, referred to his 6-foot-2 son as a “gentle giant” during an interview with a local newspaper. The grieving father credited Joseph with helping the family get through the struggles they faced after Superstorm Sandy. The ailing father called the teenager the light of his life who helped him get through the obstacles the family has faced recently.
Joseph Tutaj had called home several days before he died to tell his parents that he was not feeling well and had been taken to the hospital. The family is currently dealing with the tragic death separately – Joseph’s mother is in California preparing to bring her son’s body home.
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