No cause of death yet for Joseph Tutaj after autopsy

Seaford High School sophomore Joseph Tutaj, who traveled

Seaford High School sophomore Joseph Tutaj, who traveled to Los Angeles with the school's marching band last week for a performance, died there after being hospitalized with a high fever. ( (Feb. 19, 2013) (Credit: Handout)

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The autopsy of a Seaford High School student was completed Friday, but the cause of death is undetermined pending further tests, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said.

Joseph Tutaj, 15, died Tuesday night while on the school marching band's trip to California. Ed Winter, a spokesman for the coroner, said it could take six to eight weeks to complete toxicology and other tests, including those of the vital organs.

Winter had no further details. "We don't list partial or preliminary information," he said. "Once it is cleared and closed, we will release everything."


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Tutaj's parents could not be reached Friday. The teen's mother, Eileen, 47 and a physician's assistant, said Thursday that she was in regular contact with her son, who said he was enjoying the trip before becoming ill. He suffered from a 105-degree fever Sunday, his mother said.

Joseph Tutaj and 79 other band members had spent the weekend at Disneyland and visiting other area attractions.

Tutaj had complained of a cough last Saturday and said he had the chills, his mother said. He was taken to a medical station at the theme park and spent the next several days in and out of area hospitals, though he never was admitted overnight, his mother said.

He died Tuesday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

School officials have declined to answer questions about the incident but have described Tutaj as a beloved student who was quick to volunteer.

His mother said Thursday that she has been flooded with calls and emails from well-wishers, including students who said her son was a wonderful friend. "He was a great boy," she said. "He was always willing to help, very kind and very sensitive to people's feelings and needs."

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