On a warm Thursday morning, Joshua Mileto — son, brother, football player, class cutup — lost his life on the same high school campus where his quick wit and warmth had earned him many friends.
Hours later, after word spread throughout the day that the Sachem High School East football player had died during a campus football camp, many who knew the 16-year-old soon-to-be junior reflected on a teenage life taken far too soon.
“You just don’t expect something like that to happen,” said Joseph Soriano, 15, who described himself as Mileto’s good friend since the two met as Sachem East freshmen.
The friends played basketball and video games together, Soriano said.
“He was such a good kid, a good friend,” added Soriano, who broke down in tears when he heard what happened to his buddy. “He was funny and he knew how to make everyone laugh.”
Mileto and four other students taking part in the strength and conditioning camp were carrying a log above their heads in an exercise drill, police said. Somehow the five lost hold of the log. Mileto, stationed somewhere in the middle of the group, was hit on the head by the falling log, police said.
He was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital and later pronounced dead, said Suffolk County Police Assistant Commissioner Justin Meyers.
By Thursday afternoon, news of the accident had filtered through Farmingville’s large, extended Sachem East community. Several mourners gathered at the Farmingville Fire Department.
“First, the Farmingville Fire Department extends our deepest sympathies to Josh’s family and friends and teammates,” Chief Dave Smith said in a statement. “The Farmingville fire department has opened our headquarters to the Sachem community as a safe haven so they may grieve without intrusion.”
Another vigil was held Thursday night at Hallock Park in East Patchogue where about 100 people had gathered on a field for a meeting of the Patchogue Medford Youth Football League.
At 5:45 p.m. the group held a moment of silence and prayer session. Players there also held a minute of silence.