Burn center docs: Teen died from self-inflicted burn

Students gather at the school Friday to remember Williams. (Source: Nicole Johnson / Live 5 News)
Students gather at the school Friday to remember Williams. (Source: Nicole Johnson / Live 5 News)

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Doctors at the burn center in Augusta, Ga., say the teen who caught fire outside a North Charleston high school died Thursday afternoon.

The announcement from the burn center came shortly after fire officials announced that 16-year-old Aaron Williams had used an accelerant on his clothes before he caught fire.

"Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy. On behalf of the entire Charleston County School District, I offer my deepest condolences to the Williams family. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers," said district superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley.

In a release from North Charleston police, investigators say the event was a direct result of Williams' desire to harm himself.

Fire officials say they found an accelerant on remnants of the Williams' clothes, which he then ignited.

Now, Williams' family, friends and classmates try to cope with the tragedy.

Hundreds of students set out flowers and gathered outside the school Friday to remember Williams. Students planned to wear red Friday in memory of Williams. The American flag is flying at half staff outside Academic Magnet High School.

Since Williams' death, many students have changed their Facebook profile picture to his profile picture with the words "a boom box can change the world."

A team of up to 45 grief counselors from different organizations were at the school Friday visiting classrooms. They are on site for students who need them. There will also be two parent resource sessions in the Academic Magnet cafeteria at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Parents will learn about places to call or things to do to help their students cope with this tragedy.

One classmate actually saw Williams on fire and tried to save him. She's not looking forward to going to class Friday.

"(Friday) is going to be a bad day, a very bad day because I have him in all of my classes," said classmate Donaija Smith. "It's like you sit next to him and you're sitting next to an empty seat and to know that person will never come back to sit with you or laugh with you or talk to you."

Smith, a junior at Academic Magnet High School says the whole school has been shaken up by the death of Williams.

"Academic Magnet is one big family," Smith said. "When one hurts, we all hurt, when one grieves, we all grieve. You go through the day and let each other know that we're all here for each other."

"We pledge our full and continued support for the Academic Magnet and School of the Arts communities, and are here to provide them with whatever assistance they need during this incredibly difficult time," McGinley said.

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