Watch CBS News

Memorial Held For Special Needs Student Who Died On School Bus In Whittier

NORWALK ( —   A somber memorial service was held Saturday for the special needs student who died after being left alone on a school bus in Whittier.

Friends, family and some strangers -- an overflow crowd --  stopped to reflect on the young man's life.

CBS2's Laurie Perez said Hun-Joon Lee, known to his family as Paul, touched many lives.

No words were needed to understand the family's sorrow.

Not that the words would have been adequate, Perez reported. Watching the family peer into his hearse for one final glance spole volume of their love and loss.

"It's just the way he passed, it doesn't make any sense to me. I can't overcome what he would have went through," said Rita Zoo.

Hundreds --  too many to fit into St. Raphael Korean Catholic Center in Norwalk -- were bonded by grief and shock; both his blood relatives and his special needs family.

"It's just and unimaginable pain that we can relate to as far as being special needs parents," said Jennifer Duffy.

Lee had autism and did not speak.

Late in the afternoon of September 11, he was found alone and unresponsive on a parked school bus. The temperature was sweltering.

Dalton Rader rode the same bus. He and his sister Jackie knew Paul to be shy at first but a very sweet friend. Perez said that was a description echoed by many who knew Lee.

"I remember the first time I met him actually. I was like hey Paul how's it going and he would kind of stare at me. Next day I saw him I was like hey Paul and then he started smiling at me and eventually I would hug him," said Jackie.

Since Lee's death, the bus company -- Pupil Transportation Cooperative -- has started requiring that two adults check each bus every day to make sure no students are left behind.

A police investigation is ongoing -- the family wants answers as to why and how Lee was left on the bus. But today was not the day for those questions.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.