13-Year-Old Autistic Boy Dies After School Teacher Restrained Him With Face Against The Floor for Over An Hour

Max Bens0n was a student attending, Guiding Hands School Inc., a special needs school located in El Dorado Hills, California. The school is was supposed to be a safe haven for kids like Max, who had autism. Instead, it turned out to be the place where the 13-yer-old would end up closing his eyes for the final time. One day Max was being restained face-first against the floor after an outburst and was held in that position for over an hour before becoming unresponsive. The District Attorney for El Dorado county announced that they were charging three people in connection to the child’s death, Staranne  Myers, the school’s principal, Cindy Keller, the school’s executive director, and Kimberly Wohlwend, the special education teacher who allegedly held Max down. After they noticed that Max was no longer breathing, one of the teachers attempted to revive him using CPR before the boy was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center, where Max died two days later. In speaking with the Sacramento Bee, Max’s mother said:
“I haven’t done much except just cry. He had a big personality. He was full of life, he was funny, he was all the things you want your kid to be. People get the wrong idea about autism and what it means. In reality, Max was 5 feet 3 inches tall and only had social delays.”
All three face charges of involuntary manslaughter and the school are facing a federal lawsuit. According to the district attorney:
“This charge is based on the November 28, 2018, prone restraint of a minor student by Kimberly Wohlwend that resulted in that student’s death. This case is being filed after a lengthy, multi-agency investigation into the facts and circumstances that led to the death of this student.“

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All three defendants were scheduled to appear in court on January 7, for jury selection; however, attorneys decided to delay until June 23. Last year at their first hearing in November, all three defendants pleaded not guilty.

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The judge ruled that all three defendants were not considered flight risks, but forbid them from teaching in or otherwise running any kind of school.

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The attorney for Meyers and Keller, Linda Parisi spoke to the press on behalf of her clients:
“It is always a tragedy when there is a loss of life especially such a young life and a student. These two women have dedicated literally their entire lives to helping, educating, encouraging and working with special needs students.”
Meanwhile, many parents of the current and past students of the school, as well as former staff, came out in support of the Guiding Hands, with one mother stating that kids now had nowhere to go to get the special services the school provided. You can watch a news report on this story in the video below.