PALMDALE – Palmdale School District Superintendent Roger Gallizzi on Tuesday issued a statement regarding yesterday afternoon’s fatal school bus crash that claimed the life of 18-year-old Michael Valenzuela. The statement addressed the school district’s immediate response to the incident, as well as the steps being taken to offer counseling and support services to the students who were on the bus. Read the entire statement below:
“The Palmdale community is shattered by the tragic loss of a young man who attended school in our District and graduated from high school just last year. On behalf of everyone in the Palmdale School District, I want to express our deepest sympathy and full support for the family who lost their child. The news of this devastating accident reminds each us all that life is, indeed, precious.
Yesterday [March 25], the District was contacted by California Highway Patrol and informed that a tragic accident involving one of our school buses took place at East 55th and Avenue R at about 4:00 pm. We were informed that a young man, approximately 18 years old, who was on a bike, was struck by the bus. He was taken to Antelope Valley Hospital, where he passed away. The bus was carrying about 50 of students from Los Amigos to home.
All of the student passengers were physically safe, and I was informed by the California Highway Patrol office at the scene of the accident that the bus driver was tending to the children’s emotional needs.
Ms. Esquer, Principal at Los Amigos, rushed immediately to the accident, and she personally took action to ensure that all students were safely returned to their families, and that an adult family member was informed of the situation. Additionally, Ms. Esquer delivered last night an all-call message to the Los Amigos families, expressing our sadness and ensuring them that the school staff will be watching students particularly closely as they process this tragic news.
The District has taken action to place additional counseling and support services at the Los Amigos school site, to assist students and staff with the healing process. They will remain at the site as long as the principal believes is necessary.
The bus driver is not a District employee. All District busing services are contracted through Student Transportation of America. Strict legal protocols guide the investigation process that follows an accident involving a school bus, and these protocols are being observed.
There are no words that can adequately express our deep sadness. On behalf of our entire school community, our hearts and prayers are with the family. At this time, we will turn our energy and compassion to the students at our schools, who now need us to help them deal with this community’s loss.”