VILLA PARK – A wrestling demonstration turned into a violent attack when a coach choked a student into unconsciousness, punched him twice near an ear, walked away, then returned to punch the student once more in the head, according to authorities.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department released more details Friday on the alleged attack on a student wrestler by Emmanuel Hugo Hernandez, 26, a Villa Park High walk-on coach.
Hernandez, from Orange, was arrested Wednesday following the alleged incident. He was charged in Orange County Superior Court on Friday with one felony count each of child abuse and battery causing serious bodily injury.
Hernandez pleaded not guilty. He remained in custody at Orange County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Lt. Jeff Hallock said witnesses described the incident starting during wrestling practice at school when Hernandez offered to show them a move with the help of one of the team members.
Team members gathered around and Hernandez engaged the victim in what was at first a wrestling hold but then began to hold the boy in a chokehold, Hallock said.
“The kid was trying to tap out (surrender), when he (passed) out,” he said.
Other students began asking Hernandez, “What are you doing?” as the boy lost consciousness, Hallock said. Officials believe Hernandez told students, “Hey, that’s my cousin,” referring to the boy.
Hernandez and the boy are not related, Hallock said, but Hernandez referred to him at least one more time by the name of one of his cousins, who was not in the school or connected with the incident. Authorities are not sure why Hernandez referred to the student boy, incorrectly, as his cousin.
Hernandez also allegedly punched the unconscious boy two times, Hallock said. Then Hernandez began walking away, but returned and hit the boy once more in the head, Hallock said, and again referred to him by the wrong name.
According to a Sheriff’s Department report, Hernandez left the school as medical aid was given to the boy, who was treated at an area hospital. Hernandez was arrested at his home. The boy was released the same day and returned to school on Thursday, school officials said.
Hernandez has been a wrestling coach and employee at Villa Park High School since the fall 2010 semester, district officials said. He has no other duties with the district and has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, officials said.
Hernandez is scheduled to appear for a pretrial hearing in Orange County Superior Court on Nov. 25. If convicted, Hernandez faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Register writer Vik Jolly contributed to this report.
By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ, SCOTT SCHWEBKE, and FERMIN LEAL / ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
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