Max Benson Bio – Max Benson Wiki
Max Benson, an autistic boy from Davis, California, died due to being held in an extended prone physical restraint by the staff at his now-defunct K-12 non-public school, Guiding Hands School in El Dorado County, California.
Max Benson was 13 years old.
DETAIL OF INCIDENCE:
A grand jury indicted a defunct California school for students with special needs and three former employees on charges of the 2018 death of a 13-year-old boy with autism.
A spokeswoman for the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office confirms that the Guiding Hands School, Inc., as a corporation, was indicted July 15 on a single count of involuntary manslaughter stemming from an incident that left Max Benson dead.
Three people working at the school when Max died have also been indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges.
The three individual defendants — Cindy Keller, the El Dorado Hills-based school’s onetime executive director; Starrane Meyers, its former principal; and Kimberly Wohlwend, a special education teacher — are alleged to have restrained Max after he’d became violent.
The individual defendants have entered not guilty pleas. PEOPLE was unable to identify an attorney for the school.
The indictment comes nearly three years after the school and the three women were criminally charged with a felony count of involuntary manslaughter.
All three women entered not guilty pleas following their arrests in November 2019.
Investigators have alleged that Max had his face pressed against the floor for an hour while being restrained at the school on Nov. 28, 2018. Max died two days later.
While he was restrained, investigators allege that Max had become unresponsive. A teacher at the school performed CPR, reviving him, and he was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center.
Guiding Hands School, Inc., was a privately operated, publicly funded school specializing in providing educational services for students with exceptional needs that cannot be met in a public school setting.
Approximately a week after Max’s death, the California Department of Education suspended the certification of Guiding Hands School, Inc., and the school was subsequently closed.
The school had been operational for more than 25 years. Today, a new school opened up at the exact location.
All defendants are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 2 for a pre-trial hearing.