ORANGE (CBSLA) — A group of students at El Modena High School held a walkout Thursday after a student with severe autism died after crashing a golf cart on campus.
In the wake of the campus accident that led to the death of 15-year-old Manny Perez, a few hundred El Modena High school students came together for an impromptu protest.
Perez died Monday after crashing a golf cart at the school and suffered internal injuries.
The teen’s family hired attorneys who are trying to get answers as to how a boy, who needs constant supervision, had access to the golf cart in the first place.
“What is unbelievable is that the keys were left inside that vehicle and you don’t do that when you have a special needs kid, like Manny, who has the ability to make it go…You don’t leave it unattended, you don’t leave him unattended, you take the keys out of the ignition,” said attorney Robert Glassman.
El Modena students say they want the truth from the administration.
“This is what El Modena is really about. Standing up for a situation that should have been avoided and we are here because we all care for Manny. Whether or not he had a disability, he is still a human being, a person in our community,” said El Modena student Alice Rodriguez. “Although he is gone, his presence will always be remembered.”
A group of kids hopped the fence midway through the demonstration and marched on the sidewalk yelling “Justice for Manny.”
Students shared how they care about Manny Perez.
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.