Special-needs student found dead on school bus identified

The coroner's office Saturday released the name of the 19-year-old man with special needs who was found unresponsive on a school bus in a depot in Whittier, leading police to investigate the death as suspicious.

He was Hun Joon Lee of Whittier, said coroner's Lt. David Smith.

Firefighters at 4:15 p.m. Friday received a call of a person not breathing at the Pupil Transportation bus depot at 9402 Greenleaf Ave., according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher.

Officers responded shortly thereafter and saw several bus drivers performing CPR on a man, Whittier police Officer Brad White said.

They took over the resuscitation effort, but were unable to revive the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene by county firefighters, White said.

The depot is west of Sierra Vista High School and the Sierra Education Center, where the man was a student in a transition program, according to White and Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Valerie Thorstenson.

The death was being treated as suspicious, White said.

"We are not ruling anything out,'' he said.

The man normally rode on the 19-passenger bus, White said.

Lee rode that bus to the transition program at about 8:30 a.m. Friday, and should have boarded it to return home by 4 p.m. When he didn't get home on time, his mother called the school district, which called Pupil Transportation and that led to him being found on the bus by the driver.

Investigators will look for witnesses who can account for the man's whereabouts throughout the day and they will look at the other riders, White said.

Thorstenson said the district didn't own the bus where Lee was found.

"The district does not own buses nor does the district employ bus drivers,'' she said.

Thorstenson issued a statement of condolence and said counselors would be made available to the man's family as well as students and staff who were close to the victim.

"This tragedy has devastated all of us,'' she said. ``We are still gathering information about what happened. The district is calling for a speedy and thorough investigation to determine how something like this could happen.

"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.

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