By Danny Schrafel
Hundreds mourned the death of Tom Cutinella, a varsity football player who died after a collision during a game in Elwood, during a funeral mass in Wading River Tuesday.
Cutinella, who played for Shoreham-Wading River, died Oct. 1 at Huntington Hospital after colliding with an opposing player on the field at John Glenn High School during a game against the Knights. After the collision, Cutinella collapsed and was rushed to the hospital by Greenlawn Fire Rescue.
Tuesday’s funeral Mass followed a wake over the weekend in which hundreds lined up to pay their respects.
In a message posted on the school district’s website late Oct. 1, Superintendent of Shoreham-Wading River Schools Steven R. Cohen confirmed the sudden death of Cutinella, a junior guard/linebacker.
“Our school community is truly devastated by this awful news and we all extend our deepest condolences to Tom’s family and friends during this difficult time,” he said in the statement.
The Elwood School District has not employed an athletic trainer, who evaluates and tends to student injuries during games, since the end of the 2009 school year, according to Elwood Athletics Director Lou Tuorto. He said funding for the position was not included in the 2009-2010 budget.
Police said Cutinella, collapsed after suffering what has been described in published reports as a head injury during the third quarter at approximately 6 p.m.
Elwood School District Superintendent Peter Scordo said in a statement that the district was “extremely shocked and saddened about this horrific news.”
“We offer our most sincere condolences to Tom’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Scordo said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Shoreham-Wading River School District community.”
Flags flew at half-staff at John Glenn High School when classes resumed Oct. 2. After-school activities at the high school and Elwood Middle School were canceled Thursday to pay respects to the Shoreham-Wading River community, an Elwood district spokesperson said. Grief counselors were on hand throughout the day, Scordo added.
Cutinella was in his first year of varsity football for Shoreham-Wading River, having played the sport for the district since ninth grade, district officials said. He was also a lacrosse player and member of the Natural Helpers program, which focuses on peers helping peers.
“He excelled academically, had a great sense of humor and was just a great individual overall. He was well-liked among students and staff and he will truly be missed,” Cohen said.