Update (April 19, 2018): Following weeks of uncertainty and outrage, South Carolina officials have finally released their findings in the autopsy of RaNiya Wright, a fifth-grader at Forest Hills Elementary in Walterboro who died two days after allegedly hitting her head during a scuffle with another student.
To the surprise of RaNiya’s parents and family, the coroner said RaNiya died from an arteriovenous malformation, known as an AVM, and that the fight had nothing to do with her death.
In a press conference on Friday, Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland, Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone and Coroner Richard Harvey said RaNiya died of natural causes, adding that no charges would be filed against anyone.
The Post and Courier said that with AVM, veins and arteries can sever, causing extensive bleeding in the brain or on the spinal cord. The condition is extremely rare, but is difficult to spot in children. An estimated 1% of the population has AVM. According to district officials, RaNiya had complained of headaches for nearly two years and that she had no cuts, bruises or injuries from the “brief slap fight” that occurred on March 25.
RaNiya’s mother, Ashley Wright, was outraged by the coroner’s statement and repeated her claim that her daughter had routinely complained of being bullied by the girl she allegedly fought on March 25. She told Good Morning America last week that her daughter would “always come home saying this one girl was picking on her.""My frustration is really towards the school system because I sent my child to school feeling like she can be protected while she's not in my care anymore," Wright told GMA. "They were in the class. The girl came up behind her and was hitting her all in the head. How long, I don't know. She pushed her or rammed her head or something into the bookshelf."
At her own press conference on Friday, she reiterated that claim, telling reporters: “My daughter was healthy. She was scared to get teased...it was the same girl for two years.”Colleton County Prosecutor Duffie Stone disputed Wright’s claims, saying the fight played no role in RaNiya’s death.
"There was no evidence of trauma on or inside her body...that would indicate that any fight (of) any magnitude contributed to her death," he said.Original: A South Carolina elementary school student has died following injuries sustained earlier this week during a classroom fight with a reported bully.
RaNiya Wright died on Wednesday at a Charleston hospital, reports The Philadelphia Tribune. The 10-year-old was reportedly in critical condition since Monday following the traumatic incident that occurred at Forest Hills Elementary.
The Colleton County School District reported the young aggressor had been suspended from the school indefinitely, according to ABC News 4. The fight is currently under investigation from the school district as well as Colleton County authorities.
No further information regarding the fight or Wright's fatal injuries has been released at this time.
However, one Walterboro teacher anonymously spoke about the incident, stating that the cause was bullying. Speaking with ABC 4 News, the teacher said that she's concerned about the environment in the primary school.
"I feel that our children aren’t safe," she said, adding that the incident wasn't the first she's witnessed that negatively impacted her students. The educator told reporters that harassment from fellow students has been the cause of many events in classrooms and even within her home.
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"It’s making me want to leave, making me want to pack up my children and just move on," the unidentified woman continued. "I immediately stop [the bullying] when I see it. If I notice it as a continuous thing, I report it."
Officials did not confirm or deny if Wright's death was related to the reported bullying.
A crisis response team counseled students following the tragic event, and the county school district released a statement on its Facebook page.
"We are devastated by this news, and we want our communities to keep their thoughts and prayers with the student’s family at this time," the Facebook post read Wednesday morning.
Following the announcement of Wright's death, the school temporarily deactivated its page, which was flooded with criticism from locals.
Later that day, Colleton County spokesperson Sean Gruber and Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster released a statement extending their condolences to the family.
"Raniya was a wonderful student," part of the statement reads. "She loved to write, spend time with her friends, play basketball and loved being a big sister. She was actively involved in her church as a junior usher. She will be missed greatly by her family, friends, and the entire school community."
The district encouraged people to inform the school of counseling services needed to ease the pain of teachers, students, peers and the community at large.
Wright's family set up a GoFundMe page to assist in settling medical and funeral costs for the victim.
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