A Mattituck High School student won a national video contest after filming a PSA about the harmful effects of distracted driving.
Last month, Mattituck senior Lucas Kosmynka was awarded $5,000 and $500 to a nonprofit of his choosing through SADD/Lear Corp.’s 3rd Annual End Distracted Driving contest. End Distracted Driving aims to save lives through advocacy, education and action according to its website.
“The main point is that a little, simple mistake that may be habitual could lead to an everlasting outcome,” the Syracuse University-bound student said.
Lucas said he shot the one-minute video, titled “Heads Up,” one chilly morning last March in Tasker Park in Southold after Mattituck High School student assistance social worker Andrea Nydegger suggested he enter the contest.
Shortly after he was notified about the contest, Lucas and one of his closest friends, district custodian Michael Fedele, 56, teamed up to create the video.
“Sometimes me and [Mr.] Fedele feel like a small custodian and small student in a small community,” he said. “To touch another person’s heart in such a bigger world … it was an amazing feeling.”
The film opens with a father, Mr. Fedele, and son, played by Mattituck elementary school student Ethan Sciotto, playing baseball in an open field. As the sun sets and the duo head home, the father answers a phone call. After the screen goes black, viewers later see the impact of distracted driving — the boy is confined to a wheelchair.
Although Lucas said his father is parapalegic, that did not influence the decision to put the son in the wheelchair. Instead, he said, it was because the father would “see the mistake he’s caused every day.”
Lucas said the film was inspired by longtime Mattituck High School baseball coach Steve DeCaro, who did not return to his 17th season on the field after being placed on administrative leave in October 2018.
The first line in the short is “have a day,” a phrase coined by Mr. DeCaro, Lucas said. Every lunch period, Lucas said, the teacher, who is now reassigned, would ask students to “drive safe” and “have a day.”
Lucas donated the $500 to Kait’s Angels, a nonprofit founded in honor of Kaitlyn Doorhy, a Mattituck High School graduate who died in August 2014 after she was hit by a vehicle.
Mr. Fedele has teamed up with Lucas on some of his other projects since 2016. In March, they produced a video on suicide awareness that being used by Suffolk County Office of Health Education.
“I think I’ve helped teach Lucas that we need to bounce ideas off of one another,” he said. “I’m going to miss working with him after he graduates, because he was a partner … but I feel like a part of me will travel along with him.”