Three of the boys were on one side of the log, Mr. Fernandez said, and Joshua was on the other side with one other boy.
“When I heard about what they’re doing, I thought, ‘Whoa. What are they doing? Why are they doing that?’” Mr. Fernandez said.
He added, “These are kids — they aren’t really developed yet.”
His stepson has also carried the log. “He told me it’s really heavy,” Mr. Fernandez said.
Carlin Schledorn, a Sachem East graduate, told News 12 he did the same drill when he was on the team. “Unfortunately I can see this happening if it’s not done correctly,” he said of Joshua’s death, “because accidents happen.”
The elite Navy SEALS and other units of the United States military sometimes carry logs as part of their physical training, but they are often only half as heavy.
It’s “one of the toughest physical evolutions that anyone has to go through,” the director of fitness at the Naval Special Warfare Center says in a 2013 YouTube video. Each log is approximately 180-210 pounds, he says, and is carried by “boat crews of six or seven men” for “close to two hours, almost nonstop.”
It’s not a common activity, however, for high school athletes.
“There’s so much potential for things to go wrong that I would really want people to think twice before doing something like that,” Douglas Casa, a sports safety expert and the executive director of the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, told The Associated Press.
Friends and neighbors have rallied to support the Mileto family, holding a vigil at the Farmingville Fire Department, and contributing to a GoFundMe page. As of Saturday afternoon it had raised more than $58,000.
Valerie Malfa, 16, a cheerleader at Sachem East, will be participating in a carwash on Sunday at the Applebee’s in Farmingville, N.Y. Proceeds will go to the Miletos.
“He was such a sweet person and I never heard anyone speak a bad word about him,” Valerie said, describing Joshua, a defensive back and wide receiver, as a “really talented” football player. “Every time I would talk to him, he was always so kind.”
Mr. Fernandez said Joshua was a “great kid” and a “really funny guy,” recounting how Joshua and his stepson had been inseparable for the last two years, even dyeing their hair the same color.