An El Paso, Texas, middle school sixth-grader was killed as he attempted to cross a highway on Friday while his school participated in the National Student Walkout for gun control.
The 11-year-old was struck around 10:27 a.m. by a Ford F-150 traveling north on Loop 375 in Northeast El Paso, the El Paso Times reported. He died at an area hospital about an hour later.
A news release from University Medical Center of El Paso identified the victim as Jonathan Benko. School and police officials had not released his name.
“Jonathan was struck by a car this morning outside of his school, was transported to University Medical Center of El Paso and did not survive,” the news release stated. “Jonathan’s mother, Ashley, works as a Registered Nurse in UMC’s Emergency Department. His uncle, Michael Benko, is also an employee at UMC, where he works as a Respiratory Therapist.”
What did the school district say?
Ysleta Independent School District superintendent Xavier De La Torre told the El Paso Times that the boy was with about a dozen students who used the National School Walkout as an opportunity to leave Parkland Middle and go to a park.
De La Torre called it “a separate, isolated event of a group of students who left the school as other students protested gun violence.”
Parkland Middle School cancelled all extracurricular activities Friday and over the weekend. Almost all of the school district’s secondary schools participated in the event, De La Torre said. Most of them were held in school football fields, according to the report.
Following the accident, the Ysleta Independent School District sent parents a voice message stating that the boy was a student at Parkland Middle School.
“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of a Parkland Middle School student who left campus this morning and was struck by a vehicle on Loop 375,” the YISD message said.
Classes continued for the rest of the day, but “a line of parents formed at Parkland Middle as they attempted to take their children out of school,” the report stated. Crisis counselors were also brought to the school.
National School Walkout days were started by students who survived the February mass killing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They have organized a series of national protests aimed at what they call “congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence.”
Is anything being done for the family?
The family of Jonathan Benko is seeking help to pay for his funeral expenses.
According to the UMC news release, contributions to the family by check can be mailed to:
C/O Jonathan Benko Fund
1400 Hardaway St., Suite 220
El Paso, TX 79903
Donations also can be made online to the Jonathan Benko Memorial Fund at the UMC Foundation’s website.