Funeral services scheduled for fifth grader who died after classroom fight in South Carolina
Family Photo(WALTERBORO, S.C.) — The family of a fifth grader who died after suffering injuries from a classroom fight with another girl announced that funeral services would be held for the 10-year-old this week.
A “celebration” to honor the life of Raniya Wright was scheduled for noon Wednesday at Saints Center Ministries in Walterboro, South Carolina, an obituary said.
On Monday, Raniya’s father, Jermaine Van Dyke, and his lawyers held a news conference outside of Forest Hills Elementary School, where Raniya was involved in a fight with a classmate on March 25. She died March 27.
“I’m here today looking for justice for my daughter,” Van Dyke said. “I wanted just to find out what happened, how it happened and who was involved.”
The lawyers said they had spoken “at length” with the teacher who was in the classroom that day.
Lawyer David Aylor said Monday that Van Dyke had had “little to no contact” from anyone, including the school district, regarding Raniya’s death.
“We’ve been extremely disappointed,” said Mark Peper, a lawyer for Van Dyke.
On March 25, a staff member at the elementary school called 911 to report that a student had collapsed, according to an incident report released by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.
When first responders arrived, the student was at the nurse’s station, unconscious but breathing, the report said. She was taken to a medical center and later airlifted to the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Health in Charleston, according to the school district.
Authorities did not initially release the names of the two students involved in the incident because they were both younger than 17, but last Wednesday, the Colleton County School District identified Raniya as the student who died.
In a statement on its website, the Colleton County School District said that after the “fight” occurred in Raniya’s classroom, “school administrators promptly secured the scene, ended the fight and called emergency medical services to the school.”
The family said that she’d been unresponsive and in critical condition since the incident, according to ABC News affiliate WCIV-TV.
Raniya’s mother, Ashley Wright, shared her grief on March 27 in a public Facebook post, saying: “My baby girl has [gained] her wings.”
As of Monday, a GoFundMe page for Raniya’s family had raised more than $54,000.
Lawyers for the Wright family said in a statement Friday that relatives were “struggling to make sense of the incident that took her life.”
“Raniya’s untimely passing leaves a void in this family that will never be filled…They are awaiting answers to questions regarding the circumstances surrounding Raniya’s tragic death including was there appropriate supervision in the classroom, and what, if any, steps did school administrators take to intervene in the fight,” lawyers Margie Pizarro and Myesha Brown said in a statement Friday.
Pizarro and Brown said they would be requesting the complete investigative file and pertinent information from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Department and the Colleton County School District regarding the incident.
Peper said Monday that his team and Wright’s lawyers were “forming one unified front” to get justice for Raniya. He added that his team had spoken with some parents of schoolchildren. He declined to share the details.
“This week needs to be about the community coming together in an effort to heal,” Peper said during the news conference. “Justice will be served.”
No weapons were involved in the incident, said Shalane Lowes, a police information officer for the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.
The other student involved in the altercation has been suspended from school “until the investigation is complete,” the school district said.
“Our community has suffered a tremendous loss. We are deeply saddened…Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with this family in the difficult days ahead,” the school district said in a statement. “The district is cooperating fully with law enforcement as this matter is investigated.”
The Colleton County school board held an emergency meeting Thursday about Monday’s incident. Board member Tim Mabry said specific details from the discussion could not be shared because of the ongoing investigation and student-privacy laws.
In a statement Friday, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said it would release its findings and autopsy results “at the appropriate time.”
“We do not have a time table for the conclusion of this investigation. We expect some aspects to take at least several weeks. We will do whatever is necessary, and take as much time as is necessary to ensure a thorough investigation,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “This investigation is continuing.”
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.