Los Angeles Preps: Roger Satti

South East's Garcia hailed as a hero

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
9:30
PM PT
Jorge GarciaCourtesy of Jackie SattiSouth East junior football player Jorge Garcia intervened during a fatal stabbing on campus last week and helped subdue the accused attacker.

SOUTH GATE -- Football instincts took over.

One second, Jorge Garcia was sitting with a group of friends during lunch at South East High, having a good time, seemingly without a care in the world. Moments later, the high school junior was in the midst of a battle for his very life.

During an on-campus altercation last Friday, Garcia did his best but couldn't prevent fellow South East student Abraham Lopez, 18, from fatally stabbing Cindi Santana, 17, Lopez's one-time girlfriend and also a South East student. Santana died later that night at a local hospital during surgery from the injuries sustained during the attack.

By most accounts, Garcia, a lineman for the Jaguars, without heisitation went into gridiron mode at the time of the incident. In his mind, he said, his own safety was an afterthought.

Garcia said he tackled Lopez, blindsiding the accused attacker in an effort to prevent further harm to Santana. Garcia, himself, suffered stab wounds during the skirmish and was treated at a nearby hospital to receive stitches and close his wound. Days after the fatal tragedy, Garcia continues his road to recovery. He is being hailed as a hero at South East.

“I was with my boys, goofing around like always, then I heard a scared crying noise from a girl,'' the 16-year old Garcia recounted. “I didn't wait around, I jumped in and sacked [Lopez]. I wanted to get him away. My adrenaline was pumping, like it does in football. Thinking about it now, I think my background on the field helped me out.

“After everything happened, I knew I was cut pretty bad. But it didn't hurt. People were telling me I was lucky to be alive. I'm not going to lie, I was calm. I'm not sure why I felt that way. My mom was worried, but she's a mom. My dad told me I did a good thing."

Garcia said he did not personally know Lopez or Santana.

"I never saw them at school," Garcia said. "Still, I was put in that position for a reason. A lot of people would have froze if they saw something like that going on. I didn't. It could have been anyone, I would have helped out. I'd do it again too.''

As the incident unfolded, the dire, echoing scream for help caught his attention first. The commotion taking place nearby was undeniable. Garcia did not have time to think. He merely reacted.

But by the time Garcia subdued Lopez, the damage was done. Santana was rushed to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood. With family and friends by her side throughout, she fought to survive, but was pronounced dead at 7:45 p.m.

Garcia was taken to the hospital as well. He first went to St. Francis in an ambulance and later to Kaiser Permanente in Downey for further observation. Garcia received 12 stitches on his right shoulder, six underneath the skin to repair a damaged muscle and another six on the surface to close the gaping gash.

Not overly concerned about his own well being, Garcia said his thoughts were with Santana during his trying time. He says others have always come first in his mind, and he worries about himself second. That mentality best explains why Garcia came to the aid of a peer in desperate need, no questions asked.

Christina Ordonez, the Dean of School at South East, along with a campus police officer also were injured during the incident. However, both are reportedly recovering well, according to school officials.

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Robert Lewis puts South East on map

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
5:18
PM PT
video
SOUTH GATE -- Make no mistake, South East High has never been known as a hotbed for recruiting high-profile prep football prospects from the Southland.

That is, until now. Thanks in large part to Robert Lewis.

The senior running back is one of the nation's premier players. Lewis is so highly thought of, in fact, scouts from all over the country traveling to the West Coast these days schedule a pit-stop at once relatively obscure South East in an effort to keep tabs on him.

“I'm a Jaguar for life, the school is close to my house, in my neighborhood and 10 minutes away, this is where I belong,'' Lewis said. “It doesn't matter where you're from, if you stay focused and work hard, people will come and find you. That's the way I was raised.''

Division I college coaches normally travel to nearby Los Angeles City Sections schools such as Carson, Crenshaw and Narbonne in search of talent. In terms of discovering the next potential star at the next level, other must-stops along the way typically tend to be Southern Section programs Gardena Serra, Long Beach Poly and Los Angeles Cathedral, to name a few.

Lewis, however, has successfully put the Jaguars (5-0 overall) on the map heading into Friday night's Eastern League game against visiting L.A. Roosevelt (2-2)

The school, mind you, is in only its sixth year of existence.

“The thing about Robert is, he's as loyal as they come,'' said Derwin Henderson, in his first year as South East coach. “When I got the job, he called right away and told me that we were going to win a championship here. This coming from a teenager, I was impressed.

“I'm sure Robert had his pick of high school schools to play for, kids switch programs all the time. He wanted to break the mold though. Robert started at South East with his friends and he wanted to finish at South East with his friends. In this day and age, with everything that goes on, I have to say that his decision to stay put is refreshing to see. It doesn't happen often.''

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