An 11-year-old 6th grade boy at Parkland Middle School in El Paso, Texas, was hit and killed by a pick-up truck while crossing a major highway during the National School Walkout on Friday. According to police, the student had initially participated in the walkout but then left the campus with a group of 12 to 15 students who scaled a wall to escape the school and then crossed a major highway and then crossed back. The 6th grader was killed bringing up the rear on the second crossing. No one else was hit.
Loop 375, screen image from road closure after student hit by vehicle on Friday.”
The El Paso Police Department issued a statement Saturday regarding the incident:
Police Investigate Pedestrian Fatality
Date & Time: Friday, April 20, 2018 @ 10:27 a.m.
Location: Loop 375 @ Bomarc Off Ramp
Pedestrian: 11 – year old Johnathan Benko of El Paso (DECEASED)
Vehicle 1: 2010 Ford F150 truck, blue in color
Driver 1: 61 – year old Jesus Diaz of El Paso, TX
El Paso, TX. – The El Paso Police Department’s Special Traffic Investigations (STI) unit were called to assist
Northeast Patrol with a serious collision that involved a vehicle and a pedestrian. The preliminary investigation
revealed that the pedestrian, Johnathan Benko, a student at Parkland Middle School, was taking part in a school
organized “walk out”. During the walk out, Johnathan Benko and several other students left the designated walk
out area. According to witnesses, the group of children crossed Loop 375 West from South to North without
incident, and then several minutes later, attempted to again cross Loop 375 West from North to South. Johnathan
Benko was the last in his group to attempt to cross Loop 375 West when he was struck by a 2010 Ford F150,
which was traveling West and being operated by Jesus Diaz. As a result of the collision, Johnathan Benko
sustained serious bodily injury and was transported to University Medical Center (UMC) where he died. The
driver of the truck, Jesus Diaz was not injured and remained at the scene. There were no other children injured
in this collision.
KVIA-TV reported on the reaction at the school:
…”I just went to the field and saw people running over there and the officers started going over there,” said Parkland Middle School student Daniela Ramirez.
Ramirez and seventh grader Emerson Garcia told ABC-7 what they saw once the students were allowed out for a organized walkout.
“I stood for a good two minutes and then we had a rush of kids just run to this stone wall and just start jumping over. It was like a swarm of kids started jumping the wall,” Garcia said.
District officials had anticipated the walkout and tried to be proactive allowing the kids to walk out and assemble on the football field.
Administration added extra staff to cover the event and security stood by at the front and back of the school but a group of 12 to 15 kids left the campus…”