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Replica TransAm as KITT from Knight Rider / Photo: EPISD

Students repaint heroic Hillside custodian’s Knight Rider replica car

Custodian Michael Fierro received well-deserved media attention in August after he stepped in front of a Hillside Elementary kindergarten student to save her from a vicious dog attack.

A TV report about Fierro’s story caught the eye of CCTE Automotive/Collision teacher Art Manriquez – especially when Fierro started talking about his limited edition 1984 Pontiac Trans Am built to look like “Knight Rider’s” KITT.

Manriquez had heard about how donations were being collected for Fierro’s medical expenses, and he wanted to do something extra special for him.

“I thought, what I can do is paint the car for him,” Manriquez said.

Manriquez called Hillside principal Cindy Anderson about his plans, and she immediately contacted Fierro to tell him the good news. He sought student volunteers to do the job and secured a donation from APYS for the paint.

“The way the world is today, you don’t see this happen,” Manriquez said, referring to Fierro’s selfless act. “If you have skills to help people, you need to use it.”

Fierro described the two weeks after the incident as a grave period in his life. Not only did he suffer a broken arm and other injuries as a result of the dog attack, he also lost one of his closest friends to an aneurism.

“When I got the phone call from my principal out of the blue saying ‘Mike they want to paint your car,’ I was so happy,” he said. “It brought me back to Earth.”

Three weeks later, a shiny black KITT emerged from the CCTE Auto Shop garage ready to talk to its owner Michael just like in the TV show that made it famous.

Fierro picked up the car last Friday and visited the students on Monday again to thank them for the paint job and the good deed. He showed them his special KITT app on his phone, giving them a glimpse of the old show and why the car is so special to him.

“I never thought I’d see it so shiny. You can see your face in it,” he grinned.

CCTE seniors Carlos Soltero and Luis Rayas are among the four students who volunteered to fix the dents and repaint the car. The car, made famous by David Hassellhoff in the 1980s TV series, captured the interest of the students, too. Soltero grew up watching reruns of the show, fascinated by the nearly crime-fighting, nearly indestructible car.

“That’s why were in this place,” said Soltero, a second year automotive student.

He and Rayas eagerly volunteered to fix the scratches and dents, bringing the exterior of the 31-year-old car back to life. “People think that this is just an auto shop class but this program teaches us life lessons,” Soltero said. “He helped the little girl. He deserved it.”

Rayas added: “It’s good to help someone who helped someone else.”

Author: EPISD

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