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Mira Costa Student Dies

Darius Smith, a junior at the high school, died at home.

Darius Smith, an 11th-grader at Mira Costa High School, died yesterday, though police and school officials have yet to release the full details surrounding his death.

A cause of death has not been determined, according to Lieutenant Brian Elias of the L.A. County Coroner's Office, however examination results are expected within 24 hours. The death occurred at the boy's home, said Elias.

A source at the school said that Smith had recently transferred to Mira Costa from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance. Smith was involved in the drama program at Mira Costa, the source added.

Smith was a resident of Redondo Beach, according to Mira Costa Principal Julie Ruisinger. The principal sent an e-mail to parents of students just before 1pm Thursday with a subject heading that read simply, "Sorrow."

"Yesterday we were notified that we had lost one of our 11th grade students," Ruisinger wrote in the e-mail. "Today we are mourning the loss of that student. At the present, we have very limited information. We feel that it is important to respect the privacy of the family. We want to prevent rumors, and are not sharing incomplete information that might lead to false assumptions."

School officials held a meeting with faculty at 7:45am Thursday to notify teachers, who then read brief statements to their 2nd period students.

"We have many extra counselors at the school to help students deal with their grief," Ruisinger said. "Our primary goal at this point is to take care of our students, be there for each other, and maintain a calm, supportive environment."

Ruisinger went on to write that tragedies of this nature can "trigger unexpected emotions," and urged parents to contact the following counselors and groups for assistance with grief:

  • Dr. Gelbart and Associates, 310-257-5757
  • Melissa Kay, 310-745-7605
  • Jackie Mills, 310-318-1408
  • The Gathering Place, 310-374-6323

Ruisinger also encouraged any parents or individuals with "special concerns" to e-mail her directly at jruisinger@mbusd.org.

More details will be reported as they become available.

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