COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Investigators have released several documents and media on the death of RaNiya Wright including statements from students at Forest Hills Elementary School who reported that a student had Wright in a headlock and had struck her in the head with her fist after Wright had struck the student in the back.
The accounts come from an incident report from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office which was released Friday.
The sheriff’s office also released other investigative material on Friday afternoon which included a 911 call, interviews with teachers and medical records pertaining to Wright’s health.
This all comes after the sheriff’s office, solicitor and coroner’s office held a press conference Friday morning announcing there would be no criminal charges filed in the March death of 10-year-old RaNiya Wright. Solicitor Duffie Stone told reporters Wright died from natural causes, the result of a rupture of blood vessels in a rare condition known as arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, in her brain.
The responding deputy’s report states that after Wright had been transported to the hospital on March 25, the deputy went to the classroom where the incident occurred and requested all the students take out a piece of paper and told them to write what they saw and heard in regards to Wright and the other child involved.
The deputy said based on the students’ statements, Wright and the other student involved had been exchanging words throughout the day.
The report states as Wright was walking to the teacher’s desk, she hit the other student in the back with her hand. According to the students, the other child then got up from her seat and followed behind Wright, and began to hit Wright.
“It was observed by some students that Juvenile [redacted] had Juvenile Wright in a head lock and was striking her in the head with her fist,” the sheriff’s office report stated.
The substitute teacher said she heard the girls fighting behind her and broke them up.
In a voluntary statement to investigators, the substitute teacher said the two students had been arguing back and forth before the incident occurred, and separated them when she saw then in the physical confrontation.
“I do not know what made the two young ladies fight,” the teacher said in a statement."I do know they were arguing back and forth previous to the altercation."
Wright was then escorted to the assistant principal’s office.
“A short time later Juvenile Wright was having medical issues,” the report stated.
In a letter notifying Wright’s mother of the incident, school officials reported that RaNiya was brought in to the school nurse “after being in a fight.” School officials said that there were no signs of injury, no open areas, no swelling, no bruising and redness on RaNiya.
Sheriff R.A. Strickland described the incident as a five to 10 second “slap fight."
“In this case, the science is very clear,” Solicitor Duffie Stone said. “The science shows us her death was natural.”
The child had repeatedly complained of headaches in the days and weeks before her death, he said.
Stone classified the condition as a “birth defect” and said there was no sign of trauma on Wright’s body. He said there were no signs of bruises, cuts, scrapes busted lips or black eyes.
Also released on Friday was the 911 call made to emergency dispatchers as well as audio and text interviews conducted with teachers at the school.
A school counselor called emergency dispatch and reported that Wright was unconscious following a physical confrontation.
“She was in a fight, in a physical altercation,” the counselor said in the 911 call."And before she went completely out, she reported she was dizzy. We had to carry her to the nurse’s office."
The teacher who was in the room during the incident gave a voluntary statement to the sheriff’s office which stated the following:
The two students were arguing back and forth. I had already told them I was taking their recess.
When the situation occurred, I had my back turned. I saw the two students engaged in a fight behind my chair. I separated the two young ladies.
I do not know what made the two young ladies fight. I do know they were were arguing back and forth previous to the altercation.
In addition, investigators spoke to a PE teacher who said he observed Wright and the other student talking to each other on the day of the altercation in an unfriendly manner, and he separated them. He reported that there were no other issues with the two once they were engaged in the class’ sport.
Detectives also spoke with another teacher who said she had a very close relationship with Wright and her mother.
The teacher said RaNiya never mentioned anything about bullying or anyone bothering her.
“I feel if something was wrong, she would have told me,” the teacher said in an recorded audio interview.
She also stated that a week before the incident occurred, RaNiya said a little girl in another class was not being nice to her, but never heard the word bullying from RaNiya.
According to the teacher, the night of the incident, the mother told the teacher she felt “really bad” because RaNiya had been complaining about headaches and “she hadn’t done anything about it.”
Medical records released by the sheriff’s office show that Wright had seen doctors on multiple occasions regarding headaches she suffered in the past.
Documentation shows that Wright was seen this past March, three times last year, and three times in 2017 for symptoms that included headaches.