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Sachem East football player’s family intends $15M suit over death

Joshua Mileto, 16, died Aug. 10, 2017, after

Joshua Mileto, 16, died Aug. 10, 2017, after a 400-pound log fell on him during a football training drill at Sachem High School East. Photo Credit: Mileto family

The family of the Sachem High School East football player who died last month during a training drill has filed a notice of claim, signaling their intention to file a lawsuit seeking $15 million in compensatory and wrongful death damages.

In the notice, sent to school district officials Wednesday, Sayyida Lynn Ancharski-Mileto said her 16-year-old son Joshua Mileto’s Aug. 10 death was the result of the “negligence and carelessness” of the Sachem Central School District and the Sachem East Touchdown Club.

“The family decided to bring litigation not just for compensatory relief, but to raise awareness,” said Jay W. Dankner, senior partner of Dankner Milstein P.C., which is representing the Mileto family. “The family wants to make sure this never happens again to any other kid.”

Mileto and dozens of other players were taking part in a summer football camp on school grounds that was run by the Sachem East coaches and funded by a boosters group, the Sachem East Touchdown Club.

The teen and four teammates were carrying a 10-foot, 400-pound log over their heads as part of a training drill. Dankner said — for the first time publicly — that the boys were also competing in a relay race at the time.

Mileto died after the log slipped from the boys’ hands and struck him on the head.

A school district spokeswoman confirmed it had received the notice Wednesday. She said she could not comment on pending litigation.

The notice said students were not properly instructed on how to conduct the drill, and that officials failed to supervise the activity and provide proper medical care after Mileto was injured.

Dankner said the drill was unsafe for 15- and 16-year-old athletes, especially since the boys were tired after participating in earlier training exercises that day.

The family has asked for $7.5 million in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in wrongful death damages.

“This unsupervised and improperly conducted conditioning drill should never have been part of the training of these young boys,” Dankner said. “There was no thought or consideration as to what could, and unfortunately did, happen if the boys lost control of the log or it was dropped for any reason.”

Suffolk police investigated Mileto’s death and determined criminal charges were not warranted.

“The death of Joshua Mileto has been ruled by Suffolk County homicide investigators as noncriminal,” Assistant Commissioner Justin Meyers said Thursday.

Frank Raia, an attorney with Rivkin Radler who is representing the Sachem East Touchdown Club, said it would be inappropriate to comment with litigation pending.

The club raised more than $83,000 on a GoFundMe page for Mileto’s family but has stopped accepting donations.

Sachem East is scheduled to kick off its football season Saturday at home against Lindenhurst. The game was pushed back from Sept. 1 to give the team enough time to get the state-mandated 15 practices completed before its first scheduled game.

Mileto’s number 5 jersey will be retired during a ceremony at Sachem East at noon Saturday, two hours before kickoff against Lindenhurst.

Dankner said some of Mileto’s family members will attend the ceremony.

Sachem East football coach Mark Wojciechowski was reassigned while the school district continues its own investigation into Mileto’s death. An unidentified assistant coach was also reassigned.

Mileto’s death sparked an outpouring of grief and support not just from Long Island, but from across the nation as well.

Sachem East football players attended Mileto’s funeral at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church in Ronkonkoma wearing white team jerseys. Dozens of players from rival Sachem North High School, meanwhile, stood in front of the church in their black jerseys to pay their respects to the 5-foot-6, 134-pound wide receiver.

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