Seminole Ridge Community High School auto shop shut down after students injured

School district closes auto mechanic class

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. - The auto mechanics class at Seminole Ridge High School has been shut down while the School District of Palm Beach County investigates several accidents in which two students have been injured this year.

"As a result of the incident that took place involving two of our students on Friday, April 11, 2014 the School District of Palm Beach County has determined that the Seminole Ridge High School auto mechanic garage will not be utilized by students pending the outcome of a thorough review of the program and facility," said Natalia Arenas Powers.

The decision was made Monday evening, Powers said.

The student who was seriously hurt on Friday during a Seminole Ridge High School auto shop class remains in the hospital.

The mother of Justin Perez said on Monday her son has several broken bones and a punctured lung but believes he will make a full recovery without any permanent damage.

Perez was hurt along with another student on Friday during an incident in the shop class.

The Palm Beach County School District has not released an incident report or specified exactly what happened inside the shop class.

The incident is the second time students have been seriously injured at the Seminole Ridge High School auto shop class.

In September, Dustin Reinhardt was rushed to the hospital after a tire exploded in his face, ripping open his skull.
"There are no words," said Scott Reinhardt.

His son Dustin was 16-years-old at the time of the incident.

"The surgeon had already told my wife that it didn't look good," said Scott Reinhardt.

Dustin survived but lost his eye and part of his brain. Seven months later, Justin Perez would also suffer a critical injury in the same auto shop class at the same school.

"I question the safety of the program," said Scott Reinhardt.

The Palm Beach County School District would not say how many instructors there are in the shop, who regulates the class and if safety measures are inspected. A spokesperson would only say the incidents are under investigation.

"Something once again has occurred at that shop class. It really begs the questions of, what are they doing and who if anyone is supervising our children?" said Jonathan Cox, the family attorney.

Cox said to his knowledge, oversight of the program and the safety measures fall solely on the shoulders of the district.

He and Scott Reinhardt thought Dustin's case would have brought about changes. They are hoping the latest incident on Friday is finally that wake-up call before it once again is too late for another student.
"There are auto shop classes across the United States. I just think the safety measures need to be examined," said Scott Reinhardt.

Dusting Reinhardt is currently in a long-term recovery center. It could take years to fully understand the extent of his injuries.