By Julie Watts

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — New details have been released about the moments leading up to the death of a special needs student.

The family of Max Benson filed a civil lawsuit against Guiding Hands School in El Dorado Hills after he died after being restrained by staff. On Wednesday, three school employees were charged in connection to his death.

READ MORE: Man Suspected Of 2017 Lodi Shooting Arrested In Tulare County

The joint civil suit, filed last week by Max’s family and another family from the school, provides more details into the allegation of what led up to Max’s death.

Court documents also allege the school had previously injured other students with similar controversial-prone restraints.

State law restricts when and how long school staff can hold a child in behavioral restraints. The state determined the school did violate that law.

READ MORE: Cal Fire: Fire That Started Under Foresthill Bridge Was Caused By Arson


The civil suit alleges Max was injured as teachers performed a “takedown maneuver” holding his hands behind his back, dropping him to his knees, and rolling him to the prone position. It was allegedly in response to Max spitting on another student, something he was known to do as a result of his disability.

The suit alleges teacher Kimberly Wohlwend held his upper body while teacher Betty Morgan held his legs, and claims he vomited and urinated on himself while he was restrained for nearly two hours.

It goes on to say it took the school nurse 10 minutes to respond after staff called for help and waited “25 minutes after Max was rendered unconscious” to call paramedics while he aspirated and went into cardiac arrest.

MORE NEWS: Insurance Shopping Company Ranks Rancho Cordova With Highest Rate Of ‘Rude’ Drivers; City Criticizes Data

The civil suit also names several school districts and counties, along with the state, noting the teacher involved is still credentialed and employed as a special education teacher in Pollock Pines, now more than a year later. The state credentialing agency cannot confirm or deny whether they are investigating this teacher.

Julie Watts