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LI Teen Who Died on School Band Trip to Disneyland had Strep

School & Education, Local News, Community, Charity & Cause

A Los Angeles coroner has ruled the cause of Joseph Tutaj's death to be an "invasive" strep infection.

The Seaford student who passed away on a high school marching band trip to Disneyland died from an “invasive” case of strep throat, according to a recent Los Angeles County coroner’s report.

Joseph Tutaj, a 15-year-old trumpet player in the band, was feeling ill, and on the fourth day of the trip, he developed a fever and passed out while on an outing with the marching band visiting Santa Monica Pier.  Tutaj was in no state to fly home, so he was brought to the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, where he passed away within 24 hours of being admitted.

According to the coroner’s report, the official cause of the teen’s death was “invasive streptococcal infection,” meaning that the strep virus got into his blood and other organs where bacteria are not normally found.  Strep typically causes a fever, and bacteria typically infect the tonsils and throat, causing the throat to become inflamed and irritated. It is considered very unusual for the bacteria to invade other parts of the body.

“In my opinion, if the fever had been recognized early on as a possible bacterial infection and he was placed on antibiotics, he would not have died,” said Pittsburgh pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht to the New York Daily News. “It would be rare for a healthy 15-year-old not to respond to antibiotics with a strep infection.”

The chambers of his heart were also found to be enlarged, but medical experts do not believe this played into Tutaj’s death.

The sophomore’s death came as a shock to his family, who had already been working through more than their own share of loss.  Joseph’s father is battling late stage cancer, and the family was also forced to relocate to a rental home after their house sustained damage from Hurricane Sandy.

A Benefit for the Family of Joseph Tutaj will be held at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh on April 24.  There will be live music, a buffet and open bar, raffles, 50/50, and a live auction to support the family in their time of need.

3 comments

George White Apr 13th, 2013 12:08 PM

So sad. If only he had quicker medical attention, he would still be with his parents. Teenagers are hard to read sometimes and boys, especially, do not want to go to the doctor or admit that they are sick. I feel so bad for his parents and his mom. 

Keith Charles Edwards Apr 14th, 2013 12:03 AM

I am sorry for this loss. I agree with Mr. White, but these children are sicker and sicker today. Also, I do not like these school taking kids away on these long trips.

Ben Apr 18th, 2013 01:20 PM

I don't know about your kids, but my sons never let me know they don't feel well. They just keep going at high speed. An observant chaperone should have noticed pink cheeks and other symptoms that he was probably showing outwardly. This is very sad that his parents send him on a band trip and now do not have their child anymore.

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