OC student with special needs dies after golf cart crash on El Modena High School campus

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- A student with special needs died Monday from injuries sustained after crashing a security guard's golf cart on the campus of an Orange County high school, district officials say.

The Orange Unified School District said 15-year-old Emanuel Perez suffered "major" injuries in the incident at El Modena High School and was transported to a local hospital. Perez died from his injuries Monday night, officials say. Specific details on when the crash occurred have not yet been released.

According to Superintendent Gunn Marie Hansen, Perez was being supervised by a one-to-one aide who attempted to stop him from operating the golf cart.

After getting into the cart, Perez apparently rammed it into a pillar. School officials say no other students were involved in the accident.

The family is demanding answers as to how the incident happened. Family members said that the school can't simply say that is was an accident.

"If (the school) can't handle a special-needs program, then why have it?," Ricardo Sanchez, a family member of Perez asked.

The school is working with law enforcement to determine how the accident happened. The following letter was sent to families of the high school:

"The El Modena High School community is mourning an unimaginable tragedy following the loss of a student, who died Monday evening at the hospital because of injuries he sustained on campus in a solo vehicular accident. Orange paramedics responded immediately to the accident and transported the student to the hospital. This was a young man who had his entire life ahead of him, and we are heartbroken by this incident.

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.

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."


The superintendent said a team of school psychologists have been made available to those affected by the traumatic incident.

"...we are struggling to find the words to convey the shock and heartbreak we are all feeling. Nevertheless, we mourn this loss together, as one community that has so often demonstrated strength, resilience, faith and compassion," Hansen said in a written statement.

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

An investigation is ongoing.
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