Family of teen with autism who died at OC high school files lawsuit against school district

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- The family of a student with special needs who died on a Orange County high school campus filed a lawsuit Friday against the school district.

Emmanuel Perez, 15, died Monday from injuries sustained after crashing a security guard's golf cart on the El Modena High School campus in the city of Orange.

The Orange Unified School District said Manny was under supervision by an aide at the time of the incident, and that others tried to stop him unsuccessfully when he got on the golf cart.

It appears there was a key in the golf cart and it was idling at the time that he jumped in.

The family's attorney, Robert Glassman, says Manny was diagnosed with autism at a young age and was on the more severe end of the spectrum.

"You don't leave a vehicle, whether it's a golf cart or any other type of vehicle, alone with a young boy like Manny who doesn't understand and appreciate any danger that he might be in. But that's what happened here," Glassman said.

Manny's death sparked a student walkout at the school Thursday morning. Those who knew the teen are not satisfied with the school district's account of the incident and are demanding answers.

The school is working with law enforcement to determine how the accident happened. A letter was sent to families of the high school, which reads in part:

"Our top priority as a district has always been to ensure the safety, health and well-being of those we are privileged to serve. More than anything, we owe it to our students to provide them with safe and supportive campuses that cultivate learning.

This tragic accident has devastated our community, and we continue to gather the facts. We will work closely with our law enforcement partners as they complete their investigation into the circumstances of this accident."

A Go-Fund me page has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.

An investigation is ongoing.
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