VICTORVILLE, Calif. -- A Southern California school district will pay $28.5 million in damages after a boy with special needs was hit by a car and severely injured while under the supervision of school personnel, attorneys said Tuesday.
A judge determined the Victor Elementary School District was negligent and liable for the injuries suffered by Fabian Sanchez on Feb. 3, 2017. The district agreed to the settlement during mediation ahead of the trial's penalty phase, according to lawyers with Panish Shea & Boyle and Wilshire Law Firm who represented the boy.
The district also agreed to implement changes to procedures for special education students, the lawyers said in a news release.
"We believe this agreement will help ensure the student receives the best care possible moving forward," district spokesman Eric J. Camarena said in a statement. "Although we are confident we have good systems in place to help ensure student safety and that we took the appropriate steps before and after the incident, we want to assure our community that we never hesitate to review situations to improve our practices and services."
Fabian, who was 11 at the time, was escorted to the edge of Puesta Del Sol Elementary School campus in Victorville and left to walk home alone — in violation of the Individualized Education Plan established for the boy.
Fabian attempted to cross a four-lane road a few blocks from the school and was struck by a car traveling approximately 50 mph (80 kph). The driver stopped and called 911, according to news reports at the time.
"Fabian suffered brain swelling, brain bleeding, a broken jaw in two places, a broken leg, and his tongue was split in half," said a post on a Gofundme page created to help the family.
The boy's cognitive function and speech remain severely impaired as a result of his injuries, and he will require care, therapy, and medical attention for the rest of his life, his lawyers said.
The settlement will be covered by insurance, Camarena said.