South Dade Senior High students hold vigil for principal struck by car

Javier Perez's students, colleagues, community pulling for him to recover

SOUTH MIAMI, Fla. – With music and candles, a community came together Thursday to pray for South Dade Senior High School Principal Javier Perez. He was struck by an SUV Tuesday afternoon.

Perez survived the encounter and is recovering at an area hospital. 

"We miss having him here," student Brandon Patino said. "Every student and every teacher, every faculty member (misses him)."

Sabrina Ayala, a parent, sent a message to the beloved principal.

"Mr. Perez, we want you to get better," she said. "And we wish you the best, and we can't wait to have you back."

At the vigil, students, parents and faculty signed a banner for Perez and took turns speaking fondly of the school leader.

"Throughout the years, we have all learned to love his funny, outgoing and tough-loving personality," a student said from a podium.

Perez was at a park off Southwest 117th Street coaching his 5-year-old's baseball team when Marilyn Aguilera, 51, ran off the road, through a fence and slammed into the longtime educator, pinning him, police said.

"This is only a temporary setback to what I know is a person who is a fighter and who is a leader and who loves this community," Juan DeArmas, the school’s acting principal, said.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the district will support Perez throughout his recovery. 

"It's going to be a long journey, and we're going to be with him every step of the way," Carvalho said.