‘We’re all devastated’: MCPS Crisis team helps students after 13-year-old died

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 7:02 PM EDT
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Ocala, Fla. (WCJB) - Marion County Public Schools crisis team visited Liberty Middle School to help students and staff mourn the loss of a student.

13-year-old Douglas Zazueta was hit by a Marion County maintenance truck on southwest 20th street, between 29th terrace and 30th court Thursday morning.

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Ocala Police Officers said Zazueta was riding the back of a motorcycle with his mother. He got off the bike and went to cross the street to meet a friend and then was hit by the truck.

Officials say Zazueta was hit by the school district maintenance truck. He later died at the hospital.

Liberty Middle School Principal Melissa Forsyth said his death was overwhelming to the students.

I think when kids are so young and they lose someone their same age they just have a lot to process,” said Forsyth. “So helping them work through that with coping skills and making sure they know it’s ok to talk about Douglas and talk about the friend he was here to.”

MCPS Crisis team came to the school to offer support to students and staff. They stayed at the school all day to ensure every student got the chance to understand the tragedy and talk about it.

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John McGowan, who is the director of mental health and wellness with MCPS, said the team’s goal is to stabilize the school to get back to regular function.

“Our Psychologist and social workers will assist them to work with the students either individually or in a group,” said McGowan. “We just work with them, talk to them, whatever they may be going through, and help them process through that.

The principal says she is working on ways to support his family, staff, and students. The school staff plans to hold a vigil in honor of his life.

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