13-Year-Old With Autism Died Days After Being Restrained for Two Hours | 3 Teachers Indicted

A grand jury indicted three former employees of a closed California special needs school as well as the deceased 13-year-old autistic boy on charges related to his death in 2018.

The Guiding Hands School, Inc., as a business, was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Max Benson on July 15, according to a spokesman for the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office. The former executive director of the school in El Dorado Hills, Cindy Keller, the former administrator, Starrane Meyers, and the special education teacher, Kimberly Wohlwend, are charged with restraint of the violent Max.

The three ladies were charged with involuntary manslaughter on a criminal count and the indictment was issued about three years after the event. As of right now, the defendants have not pleaded guilty. Investigators claim that on November 28, 2018, Max was restrained inside the school and his face was pressed against the floor for an hour. Two days later, Max died.

The boy had brain damage after being held face-down by two teachers for almost two hours. Investigators claim that Max passed out while being restrained. A teacher at the school performed CPR on him, and he was then brought to UC Davis Medical Center after being recovered.

Attorneys for the school said that de-escalation strategies were occasionally necessary to ensure the safety and security of students, staff, and teachers in statements made a few months after Max’s death. Max allegedly spit on a student, and school officials took him into custody. He vomited and urinated on himself, and when the ambulance took him away from the school, he was unconscious, according to court documents.

A privately owned, publicly funded school with a focus on offering educational services to kids whose needs couldn’t be met in a public school setting was called Guiding Hands School, Inc. A week or so after Max’s passing, the Guiding Hands School, Inc. certification was stopped by the California Department of Education, and the institution subsequently closed.

Nearly 25 years have passed since the institution first opened. Today, a new school has begun operations in the same location. In their legal lawsuit, the family said that staff members failed to make any attempts to ensure that Max was released from the hold or to inquire about his health. Before the paramedics arrived at the school, he passed out 25 minutes earlier.

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