FARMINGVILLE, Long Island — Teammates of a teen who died during football practice on Long Island are seeking legal action against the Sachem Central School District and the Sachem East Touchdown Club over an alleged lack of counseling provided to them after their friend's death.
“I just see everything again every night in my sleep,” said Nicholas Paolucci, a Sachem football player. “I think the school could have done a lot more for us but they haven’t done anything."
Paolucci said he sleeps only two to three hours a night if he's lucky. He said he has daily nightmares and panic attacks, and all of it is the result of living through the traumatic death of his teammate and friend Joshua Mileto on Aug. 10, 2017.
“Everyday is a struggle,” he said.
And he's not alone.
Other teammates, including Sachem team captain Matthew Kmiotek, said they've found it difficult to cope with their loss.
“I'm hoping to achieve help for everybody who was involved in this tragedy,” Kmiotek said.
The players were on the practice field and carrying a log when suddenly it was dropped, crushing Mileto’s neck and skull.
Despite the trauma, parents and students said it wasn't until November, at the end of the football season, when the district offered two counseling sessions with Long Island Trauma Center. They were promised that therapy would resume after winter break but, they said, it never did.
On Wednesday, they filed a notice of claim. They’re seeking $15 million.
Parents of the teen who died filed a legal claim against Sachem School District and Sachem East Touchdown Club last year, seeking $7.5 million in compensation for personal injuries, including conscious pain and suffering as well as the wrongful death of their son due to “carelessness and negligence.”
Michael Paolucci, father of Nicholas Paolucci, said he’s spoken at the school board meeting and with officials who assured him that help would be provided for the students.
“This is the last place I want to be,” he said. “The last thing I wanted to put my son through."
In a statement to PIX11 News, Dr. Kenneth Graham, superintendent of the Sachem Central School District, said:
"The health, safety, and mental well-being of all our students and staff continues to be our top priority. In the aftermath of the horrific events that took place during the August 10, 2017 tragedy, the district enacted steps to provide in-district and out-of-district support services to our student body and staff. Counseling services are available on an on-going basis for anyone in need.
"The district has not yet been served with the complaint and, following with consistent protocol, the district will refrain from commenting on pending litigation.”