Department of Social Services facing lawsuit after girl with special needs dies in car

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:19 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:30 PM EDT
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Department of Social Services is facing a lawsuit after a 13-year-old girl with special needs died in a car in Colleton County.

Cristina Pangalangan died in Ruffin in August of 2019. Colleton County deputies say her mother, Rita Pangalangan, and her boyfriend, Larry King Jr., intentionally left her in a car unattended for several hours.

The lawsuit claims that DSS was notified five times about the lack of care for the girl before this incident.

According to the suit, the last contact DSS had with Cristina was on March of 2019 related to a severe burn on Cristina’s face, neck and chest. Lawyers say DSS was alerted by the Colleton County School District after Cristina was sent to school without a bandage, and the wound was draining. The school and DSS then contacted the mother requesting that she seek treatment for her child’s wound, the suit states.

Lawyers stated that Cristina was not provided medical care for that wound, and returned to school by her mother without treatment. The school district raised more concerns to DSS that Cristina was not being cared for properly by her mother, according to the lawsuit. Lawyers said this was the fifth interaction between DSS and the mother involving the care of Cristina.

According to the lawsuit, Rita Pangalangan told DSS that she was frustrated with the school and would no longer send her daughter to the school when she was injured because they would report her to DSS.

Lawyers said that DSS failed to intervene in any way.

Pangalangan, who was a teacher at the Colleton County School District, and King were charged with murder, and the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the victim. According to court records, the case is still pending.

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