WADING RIVER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Friends and family will gather Monday afternoon for the second day of the wake for a Long Island high school football player who died after an on-the-field injury.
Tom Cutinella, a 16-year-old linebacker and guard at Shoreham-Wading River High School, died Wednesday after a collision with an opponent.
The wake is being held at St. John the Baptist Church in Wading River. The funeral will be held Tuesday morning.
Cutinella collapsed following the hit in the third quarter of a game at John Glenn High School in Elwood. An ambulance arrived in 10 minutes. Cutinella was taken to North Shore-LIJ Huntington Hospital and rushed into the intensive-care unit after undergoing surgery, but he never recovered.
At the hospital, relatives, friends, teammates and coaches waited for news on his condition. As word of his death spread, some fell to the floor crying. The grief continued through the following day as students and friends held a vigil Thursday evening.
“He was honorable, upstanding, all the greatest characteristics,” Ruth Squillace, one of Cutinella’s teachers, told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider last week. “There wasn’t a student that he interacted with that didn’t instantly love him. He was kind to all, and he will be sorely missed.”
Schools Superintendent Steven Cohen said Thursday that Cutinella had an “immediate reaction,” stood up and then collapsed. He called the teen’s death a “freak accident.”
“He was such a wonderful kid that I don’t think anyone can wrap their head around it,” Shoreham-Wading River assistant coach Hans Wiederkehr said last week.
Cutinella’s official cause of death has not been given. A police report said it resulted from a head injury, and Shoreham-Wading River High School has not commented on its investigation.
But the school did outline protocol for equipment, yearly tests and evaluations, and said helmets must meet federal requirements.
Whether Cutinella had a history of injuries or a pre-existing condition remains unknown.
Cutinella’s death came at a time when football — whether at the high school, college or NFL level — is under increased scrutiny amid concerns about injuries and brain damage.
Cutinella was the third high school football player nationally to die in a week. Two other football-related deaths occurred within the past month in New Jersey and on Staten Island.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, parents, coaches and players on Long Island have voiced their concerns over the dangers of the sport since last week’s tragedy, and parents flooded sporting goods stores in search of newer helmets and thicker padding Friday.
Some roads will be closed Tuesday due to the anticipated large number of people attending Cutinella’s funeral. North Country Road will be closed from Wading River-Manorville Road to North Wading River Road from approximately 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Tuesday. There will also be intermittent closures along the Route 25A corridor in Wading River throughout the morning.
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