Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Second Drug Related Death in Three Weeks of a Santa Monica High School Student

Body of Leslie Hernandez, 17, found dumped in the Los Angeles River in Long Beach


April 16, 2017

Stock photo of the Los Angeles River in Long Beach

Update, 5/10/17: Leslie Hernandez disenrolled in Santa Monica schools in March of 2015. She was a student at the time of her death, but she was not a student specifically at SamoHi or any SMMUSD school.

The body of a teenage girl found on April 7th, 2017 along the Los Angeles River in Long Beach, turns out to be that of a santa monica high school junior, Leslie Hernandez, 17.

Witnesses called Long Beach Police at 1:30 a.m. Thursday to report that they had seen a body. She was recovered from near the edge of the water, near the West Ocean Blvd bridge.

Long Beach Police Department announced the victims identity in a tweet. Officers originally reported the victim appeared to be a woman in her 30s. Hernandez' death, the fourth death of a santa monica high school student this year, is the second SamoHi death from an apparent drug overdose, officials said.

Officers who recovered the body told KTLA on Thursday the body showed no sign of trauma, but coroner's officials had not yet determined an official cause of death.

The Long Beach police apparently said the death was drug related, but did not disclose how they made that determination. A witness said a driver of an SUV dumped the body and drove away, but Long Beach police did not confirm that report. However, investigators did pull over an SUV near the 710 and 91 Freeway interchange and interviewed, but did not arrest, the occupants, authorities said.

A santa monica high school boy died over the March 17-20th weekend, after falling out of a window during what a school District press release described as "a bad trip on acid."

Two female students died of illnesses this year, one in September and one in February. santa monica high school has just under 3000 students. 4 deaths of students in six months must be considered a concerning death rate for a US high school, even if all 4 deaths are unconnected.

"3-20-17 . Dear santa monica high school family and community,

It is with deep sadness that we are letting you know that Andre Zuczek, 15, a ninth grade Samohi student, has died after suffering major brain trauma among other injuries.

Andre's mom wants the community to know what happened so that other parents may be spared from losing a child to drug use. To this end, the family (through a representative) shared the following message:

Andre and a few friends got together on Saturday and tried the drug, acid. Things went badly very quickly as Andre had what is thought to be a "bad trip," and fell from a third floor apartment. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors tried very hard to save him.

We encourage you to talk about Andre with your kids, friends, your family and whoever else provides you support. In sharing, please be aware that hearsay and gossip can be very hurtful and can add more sorrow to the grief we are all feeling at this time.

Funeral arrangements are not yet set.

Please join us in holding Andre's family and friends in your heart at this difficult time. Counseling is available at Samohi for any students needing support.

Sincerely, Dr. Antonio Shelton, Principal"


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