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Special Needs Student Drowns In A Pool During Class Field Trip

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A 16-year-old student with autism drowned Wednesday while on a class field trip, despite having a teaching assistant whose job was to watch him at all times.

Erick Ortiz, a student at Garfield High School, drowned in a pool at nearby Atlantic Park while on the class' annual field trip. Ortiz' mother had given him permission to go to the park, but not to go into the pool. Ortiz did not know how to swim, something the teaching assistant, who had been assigned to Ortiz for the past two years, was aware of, NBC reports.

Witnesses say Ortiz sank into the deep end of the pool, surfaced and took a breath, then sank again. He was pulled out of the water and an ambulance was called. The teaching assistant also called Ortiz' mother, but allegedly only after the ambulance had arrived. The mother rushed to the scene and witnesses say they heard her screaming. The boy was then taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is unclear as to whether Ortiz jumped into the pool, fell or was pushed. Ortiz' sister, Leslie, told NBC that he had all of his clothes and shoes on when he entered the pool. Lifeguards were also reportedly on duty at the time.

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The family's lawyer, Luis Carrillo, says the family wants answers and justice from Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD). The family plans to hold a press conference later today at Carrillo's office.