Dozens of students at El Modena High School walked out of class on Thursday morning in protest after a golf cart crash on campus resulted in the death of a 15-year-old student with special needs earlier this week.
Manny Perez suffered major injuries in the crash on Monday at the campus, located at 3920 E. Spring St. in the city of Orange. He later died.
It was not immediately clear how he got into the vehicle; an attorney for Manny’s family said the boy had been unattended, something the Orange Unified School District has denied.
A GoFundMe account set up to raise money for the teen stated that he had autism and “limited motor skills.”
Robert Glassman, the family’s attorney, told KTLA that Manny had the mental capacity of a 3- to 5-year-old.
“He was on the severe end of the autism spectrum,” Glassman said. “And the school knew that, everyone knew that, and that’s why it’s completely unacceptable that they left him unattended where he would be in a position to this kind of thing.”
In a statement to KTLA, the Orange Unified School District, refuted the allegation that the teen was alone at the time.
“He had two aides with him when he entered a parked golf cart. These aides immediately tried to persuade the student to exit the cart and tried to stop it as it sped forward and ultimately crashed,” the statement read in part.
That explanation, however, didn’t appease some students who expressed frustration over the incident as they participated in the walkout after first period.
“He died because of somebody else’s fault, because they weren’t watching him,” said Victoria Ruiz, a student at the school. “It could have easily been prevented by … somebody just watching him.”
The Orange Unified School District released another statement to KTLA after dozens of students walked out of class on Thursday:
“We understand how difficult this week has been for many of our students. We sympathize with their frustration and sadness. Frankly, this anxiety is being fueled by unfounded rumors and misinformation on social media, and that is unfortunate.”