ORANGE PARK, FL -- A young life is lost after one of his peers is accused of punching him in the forehead. Members of the Orange Park community were holding vigils and praying, but 15-year-old David Baez passed away Saturday night after a struggle to survive.
Grief Counselors spent Monday at Ridgeview High School meeting with students who are dealing with Baez’s death. Many say that he was well liked and students say they plan to hang a banner in front of the school’s cafeteria to honor him.
The Baez family kept a constant vigil at David's bedside for more than a week as he lay in a coma. He passed away overnight on Sunday.
At Ridgeview High School on September 12th, David Baez was allegedly punched by 17-year-old Thomas White and remained in a coma until his passing.
Students who know both teens were in a state of disbelief. School administrators were also saddened by the loss.
"It's just a tragedy and we're very saddened by his death," said Darlene Mahla, Clay County District Schools. "David was a very good student. He was an honor student."
Because of Baez's death, police and the State Attorney's Office reexamined whether the 17-year-old should be charged as an adult. On Monday afternoon, State Attorney Harry Shorstein announced White was charged as an adult and will face a manslaughter charge.
"The victim obviously loses. The family loses -- even more so," said Mary Justino, Clay County Sheriff's Office. "The perpetrator has ruined his life."
Thomas White is being held at the Clay County jail. He does have a juvenile criminal record. Last year, he was sent away to a special school for juvenile offenders and had recently returned to Ridgeview High School.
Meanwhile, funeral arrangements have been made for David Baez. His family will hold a viewing on Tuesday from 5pm-8pm at the Jacksonville Memory Gardens in Orange Park. The funeral will then be held on Wednesday at St. Lukes Catholic Church in Middleburg at 11am.
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First Coast News