ORANGE (CBSLA) — A high school student with special needs died after crashing a school golf cart on campus earlier this week, officials said Wednesday.
According to a GoFundMe page, the 15-year-old student, later identified as Manny Perez, was left unattended in a golf cart on Sept. 9 at El Modena High School when he crashed and suffered internal injuries.
The fundraising page indicated that Manny “was autistic and had limited motor skills,” and the Perez family’s attorney Robert Glassman described him as being more like a 4-year-old due to his disability.
“So far what the family has been told by the school district is quite frankly conflicting stories. At first, they were told that Manny broke away from a group of teachers and got into a golf cart, and crashed into a wall,” said Glassman. “Later, they were told by the school that Manny was placed in the golf cart and left unattended in there with the key inside the ignition, where he then pushed on the accelerator and crashed.”
According to the Orange Unified School District, Orange paramedics responded immediately to the accident and transported the student to the hospital.
Friends of the 15-year-old gathered outside of the school on Wednesday evening demanding answers about how this tragedy was allowed to happen.
“I was there when he had his ups and downs. He had fits,” Raymundo Sanchez, a friend of the teen, said. “It was not too long ago that I spoke to him.”
Sanchez said the family holds the school district responsible for the accident that claimed their son’s life hours after he crashed into a wall.
“This is a young man, a special young man who should have been supervised,” Glassman said.
In a statement from Orange Unified School District, officials said they were trying to determine the exact circumstances surrounding the accident.
“We take student safety very seriously and maintain appropriate supervision when students are on campus. At the time of the incident, the student was supervised by a one to one aide who attempted to stop him from operating the golf cart,” the statement read.
The district released a letter to El Modena parents that said in part, “Words are insufficient to describe the pain our students and staff are now feeling. As we take the steps necessary to support the family and student body, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, loved ones and friends. In this time of mourning, we ask that everyone respect the family’s privacy.”
The letter stated that the school district would be working closely with law enforcement partners as they investigated.