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Special-needs student found dead on empty school bus

A 19-year-old special needs student at the Sierra Education Center was found unresponsive and alone on a school bus parked at a depot in Whittier on Friday.

Police arrived at about 4:23 p.m. to find several bus drivers attempting CPR on the young man.  The officers took over the lifesaving effort, without success.  The young man, whose name has not yet been released, was pronounced dead by firefighters about 10 minutes after the police arrived.

Police are treating the death as suspicious because “nothing that we’ve learned so far would lead us to believe he had any medical conditions,” said Brad White, a spokesman for the Whittier Police Department.

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There were no signs of trauma on the young man’s body and no weapons found at the scene, White said.

The young man typically leaves school on the bus around 2:30 p.m. and arrives home at 4 p.m., White said.  When he didn’t show up on Friday, his mother called the school and the school called the bus company.  A driver went out to the bus yard and found the young man slumped in the aisle of the parked bus, White said.

Whittier Union High School District Supt. Sandra Thorstenson issued a written statement of condolence.

“Our hearts are with our student’s parents and family -- we’re all grieving.  We’re making ourselves, our counseling services and our staff available to his family and to our students and staff who were close to him,” she wrote.

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jack.dolan@latimes.com

@jackdolanLAT

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