MONTEREY PARK (CBSLA.com) — A funeral was held Wednesday in Monterey Park for a 16-year-old boy with special needs who drowned during a school outing.
Erick Ortiz, a sophomore at Garfield High School, died June 4 after wandering into a pool on a school trip to Atlantic Park in East Los Angeles, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Family attorney Louis Carrillo said Erick was “left alone and unattended.” A lifeguard saw him in distress, pulled him out and administered CPR. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Ortiz family is claiming negligence at the hands of the LAUSD resulted in his death and demands an independent investigation as to why their child was left alone. Erick had been assigned a full-time special education assistant in 2012.
They also said at no time did the school trip have anything to do with a pool; Erick was unable to swim.
A wake was held for the teen Tuesday, and a religious service and Mass was scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2316 Hillview Ave., in Monterey Park.
CBS2’s Adrianna Weingold said the boy’s mother’s grief was so intense during the ceremony that she could barely breathe.
His brother Melvin told Weingold the family is in deep mourning.
“He was our little special guy. We were always with him. Everything he wanted, we tried our best to give it to him,” Melvin said.
Members of Erick’s high school soccer team brought white roses in memory of their fallen teammate.
Deanna Melvey was Erick’s speech-therapy assistant for three years.
“He wanted people to be happy around him,” she says, “and he didn’t want to feel any sorry or negative energy, and he fixed it if he felt it.”