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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Doctors were forced to amputate a much-loved Miami-Dade school principal’s legs Thursday after an SUV slammed into him.

Meanwhile, Javier Perez’s students from South Dade Senior High honored him with a candle light prayer vigil at the school.

Perez continues fighting for his life in intensive care at Kendall Regional Hospital.

A friend sadly told CBS4 that doctors were forced to amputate the 43 year old’s legs.

“Mr. Perez is the best things to happen to South Dade in a while,” one of his senior students told a crowd of about 200 students and faculty.

They all gathered Thursday night in the school’s courtyard – candles everywhere.  They all signed a large blue banner with “Pray for Perez” written across in white letters.

Some of Principal Perez’s students wore bow ties to the prayer vigil, symbolizing Perez’s dapper professionalism on campus each day.

“Every day when I’d see him he’d be wearing his tie,” one boy told CBS4’s Reporter Donna Rapado.

He wore a purple bow tie over his t-shirt and hoodie.

“He’s a great principal and we really want him to get better, and to be able to do all the things he likes do,” freshman Isabella Disotaur told Rapado.

“He’s caring. He loves all the kids,” said sophomore Juan Castillo, wearing a blue tie. “He’s caring to all the kids. He watches out for all of us. And to hear what happened to him on the baseball field is just terrifying.”

Miami-Dade police said 51-year-old Marilyn Aguilera was driving a silver GMC Envoy Tuesday when she barreled through a fence at Tamiami ball park. Aguilera then mowed down Perez as he helped coach his son’s little league team.

Public records show Aguilera has a history of at least 14 traffic citations, mostly for driving without a license, a tag or proof of insurance.  Police are still investigating what caused Aguilera to careen off SW 117 Avenue near the park’s batting cages.

Meanwhile, by all accounts, Principal Perez is a fighter. Everyone at the vigil was confident he’ll be at the school’s reigns again in no time.

“It’s gonna be a long journey,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told the crowd.  “But we’re gonna be with him every step of the way.”

Arrests are still possible as police continue to investigate.

The Perez family set up a GoFundMe page for help with mounting medical expenses.

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