Students, faculty hold vigil for principal struck by driver in SW Miami-Dade

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) — A South Florida principal who was seriously injured by an out-of-control SUV at a baseball game received an emotional show of support, Thursday evening.

Hundreds gathered at South Dade Senior High School to show their support for Principal Javier Perez with a a vigil. Many said he is known to wear bow ties around campus, but he is probably best known for his big heart.

Country music, candles and bow ties were all part of the vigil in honor of the South Dade Senior High School principal. Perez was critically injured after being hit by a vehicle at Tamiami Park, Tuesday evening. "However long it takes, we shall wait for him, we shall walk with him," said Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho. 

Students and faculty met in the high school courtyard. They offered prayers for Perez, who they said is more than a leader on campus. "I had massive kidney surgery, and he was there for me," said parent Sabrina Ayala. "He told me to go ahead and get better. That [if there were] any issues the kids had at school, that he would deal with them." 

Perez was coaching a kids baseball game in Tamiami Park when the driver of the SUV went off the road and plowed through the chain-link fence. Since then, his school has rallied behind their fallen leader both on campus and online. 

The hashtag "PrayforPerez" has since been trending on social media. 

Some students fought back tears before Thursday’s vigil as they remembered the man in the bow tie who taught through tough love. "The bow tie is basically a symbol that we care," said student Brandon Patino.

The bow tie is a gesture organizers asked participants to wear for the ceremony. "How loved he is and how we miss him and how we are expecting him to be back soon," said South Dade Senior High acting principal J.C. De Armas.

While Perez is improving, his family is asking for privacy in regards to the details of his injuries. They thanked the South Dade Buccaneer family for their support. "Considering where he was at that point, facing a very critical condition to where he is today, stable condition, he’s made an incredible recovery," Carvhalo said. "It’s gonna be a long journey, and we’re gonna be with him every step of the way."

The investigation continues as the principal recovers in the hospital.