Community devastated after 10-year-old dies following classroom fight

Updated: Mar. 27, 2019 at 8:17 PM EDT
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WALTERBORO, SC (WCSC) - Flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals were left in front of a Colleton County elementary school where investigators say a fight in a classroom led to the death of a 10-year-old girl two days later.

Raniya Wright, a fifth-grade Forest Hill Elementary School student, died at the Medical University of South Carolina Wednesday morning.

Newly released reports by investigators state emergency crews responded to the elementary school on Monday after deputies responded to a report of a student collapsing. The Colleton County School District said Wright had been injured during a fight in the classroom.

William Bowman Jr., a Colleton County school board member, said the community is hurting after this loss.

“It’s heartbreaking to see something like this happen in our schools,” Bowman said. “It’s crazy.”

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

District officials confirmed that they posted about the incident the day it happened on the Facebook pages for the school and the district. They also posted about the incident on the district’s webpage. But while they do have a system that can do a mass telephone call to notify parents, they did not use it.

Colleton County School District spokesman Sean Gruber said the district did send a letter home to parents Wednesday to update them on the situation.

Wright, 10, died Wednesday morning at MUSC, according to Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey. Deputies say an autopsy has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday and the sheriff’s office will issue a statement after the autopsy is complete.

Colleton County Sheriff’s spokesperson Shalane Lowes did not provide any details as to the cause citing the ongoing investigation.

A post on the Colleton County School District's Facebook page Wednesday morning confirmed the student's death at 9:39 a.m.

“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 post read.

The district’s Facebook page was then temporarily suspended a short time later, a move the post explained was designed to help the district “better focus on providing the care that our stakeholders need at this time.”

“What is most important right now is making sure our students, staff and teachers are getting the support that they need,” District spokesman Sean Gruber said. The district’s crisis team has been on campus since the incident and he said it will remain there for the foreseeable future to ensure everyone gets support.

State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman has been in contact numerous times by phone with Colleton County School District Supt. Dr. Franklin Foster since the incident happened.

Raniya Wright, a fifth-grade Forest Hill Elementary School student, died at the Medical...
Raniya Wright, a fifth-grade Forest Hill Elementary School student, died at the Medical University of South Carolina Wednesday morning. (Source: Ashley Wright)

The child was injured Monday during what district officials called a fight in her classroom at Forest Hills Elementary School. An incident report from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office states Colleton County Fire Rescue responded to a 911 call from school staff members who reported a that a student had collapsed. The student was in the nurse’s station and was unconscious but breathing, the report states. It did not provide any further details on her condition or the extent of her injuries.

Gruber confirmed Monday one student was suspended in connection with the fight.

A school board member said this is one of the most tragic things he can remember during his years serving on the board.

“We’ve never had an incident of this magnitude that has occurred in our school district," board member William Bowman, Jr. said. "It’s been very tragic to all of our community, it’s been very devastating to all members of our community.”

The Colleton County School District said on Tuesday it is cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation and released the following statement on their website on Wednesday afternoon.

Our community has suffered a tremendous loss. We are deeply saddened that Raniya Wright, a fifth-grade Forest Hills Elementary School student, has passed away. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with this family in the difficult days ahead. The District has been communicating with the family to provide support and assistance, and we will continue to do so going forward.

Raniya was a wonderful student. 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.

Our entire school district is saddened by this event. It is very difficult to experience the death of a young person. We are providing guidance and counseling service to students, staff and family members as needed. The well-being of our students and staff will remain a top priority as we deal with the emotions surrounding this tragedy. Children may be coming home with questions and worries about this loss. Please feel free to contact the school counselors of you have an issue you would like to discuss.

The district is cooperating fully with law enforcement as this matter is investigated. No further information is available now regarding the status of the investigation, but additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers as we work through the pain and emotions of this devastating loss.

People are dropping off flowers and more after a 5th grader at Forest Hills Elementary died this morning. She was airlifted from the school Monday after a fight happened there. Brad Streicher - Live 5 News has details at the scene.

Posted by Live 5 News on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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