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$18,100 Donated to Alien Injured Crossing Border

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Times Staff Writer

More than $18,000 in donations has been raised to help the family of a Mexican man critically injured when he strapped himself under an Orange Coast College school bus in an attempt to illegally enter the United States.

Doug Bennett, executive director of the Orange Coast College Foundation, said $18,100 had been raised in less than a week to help the family of Juan Jose Buenrostro, 31. The donations, which are tax deductible, began flooding into foundation offices after a story on Buenrostro appeared in the Los Angeles Times and later on a Los Angeles television station.

“I have never quite seen anything like it,” Bennett said. “We have gotten donations ranging from $1 to $500, and we are still getting calls.”

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Money raised by the school will be used to help in Buenrostro’s recovery and to help support his wife and four young daughters, Bennett said. He said it could be used to provide Buenrostro, who remains comatose, with physical therapy and to buy medical supplies.

Buenrostro was injured when he hid himself under the school bus. He lost his left arm when it became entangled in the drive shaft. He also suffered massive head injuries and was left in a coma.

After being treated at San Diego Medical Center, he was sent back to Mexico to live at his mother’s house. His wife and four children, meanwhile, remained in San Diego with relatives.

Bennett said the money raised “represents as many single donations (as) we usually get in the course of an entire year. It is really amazing.”

“We have gotten four or five hate phone calls, saying things like, ‘Why don’t you help a real American?’ but they are overshadowed by everything else.”

Bennett said the school decided to establish the fund because Orange Coast students who were on the bus took a special interest in the case. The students had been in Tijuana for a Spanish Club field trip.

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Donations may be sent to the Orange Coast College Foundation, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, Calif. 92628. Checks should be made payable to the Orange Coast College Foundation and include a notation on the check that the money is for the Juan Buenrostro fund.

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