Family of drowned teen sues LAUSD for negligence, wrongful death

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- The parents of a Garfield High School student who drowned at a school event has filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District claiming negligence and wrongful death, their attorney announced Thursday.

On June 4, Erick Ortiz, a sophomore with autism, drowned at a public swimming pool at Atlantic Park during the school's annual end-of-the-year event. His body was found fully clothed in the water.

Mother Claudia Herrera said her 16-year-old son wanted to live life and that he loved school.

"Seeing my mom suffer every single day, crying every day is not easy," Erick's sister Leslie Ortiz said. "We want justice, we want the people who are responsible for my brother's death to be held responsible."

Garfield High School Principal Jose Huerta and Jose Lopez, the teacher assistant assigned to Erick Ortiz since January 2012, were also named in the lawsuit.

Ortiz's family said the school sponsored event had nothing to do with swimming and want to know why Lopez left Erick Ortiz alone.

"Is he able to live his life knowing what he did to cause my brother's death. Is he able to smile, laugh, have a normal life? Because we haven't," Leslie Ortiz said.

The district declined to comment on the case specifically, but its attorneys released a statement, "Regardless, one constant truth remains - we are a community of educators committed to the safety and well-being of every student in the school district, and we all continue to work hard every day to create a safe learning environment. Our hearts and sympathies continue to be with the family."

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