South Carolina fifth grader in school fight died of natural causes; no charges will be filed
WALTERBORO, S.C. – The fifth-grade South Carolina student who died days after a classroom fight died of natural causes, said 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone. No charges will be filed related to her death.
Raniya Wright, 10, died in a Charleston hospital March 27, two days after she was involved in a fight with another student in her classroom and rushed to a Colleton County hospital.
Frustration has grown in the three weeks since Raniya’s death because of a lack of details released.
Investigators said they were awaiting the results of forensic tests before sharing more information.
Stone said Friday that forensic pathologists and other doctors found Raniya died from a congenital medical condition called arteriovenous malformation or AVM.
AVM, a rare defect in the body’s vascular system that often forms at birth, is hard to diagnose until adulthood, according to The Nemours Foundation.
When the vascular system functions normally, capillaries slowly transfer oxygen to tissues surrounding the arteries and veins. When an AVM is present, those blood vessels are tangled and blood goes from arteries to veins too quickly, which can deprive the surrounding tissues of oxygen and it also can lead to those veins and arteries bursting, according to the Mayo Clinic.
An AVM can happen anywhere in the body, but they’re most common in the brain or the spine. A ruptured AVM in the brain can lead to a brain hemorrhage, stroke or other brain damage.
Colleton County Sheriff R. A. Strickland did confirm that Raniya was involved in a five to 10 second altercation in her classroom March 25. He identified that altercation as a “slap fight” and said there was no evidence the altercation was connected to Raniya’s death.
Investigators said there were no signs of external trauma on Raniya’s body immediately after the fight.
Pathologists conducted tissue tests to determine whether there was any internal trauma connected to the fight. Those tests did not show any evidence that the altercation contributed to her death.
Because of those test results, no charges will be filed in connection with Raniya’s death, Stone said.
In addition to forensic testing, investigators also conducted interviews with the teacher as well as 15 students who were in the classroom that day.
Investigators said rumors that a teacher was not in the classroom when the altercation occurred were not true. They said the teacher was in the classroom and pulled the two girls apart within a few seconds of the start of the fight.
After the altercation, the teacher solicited help from an assistant principal who was nearby. According to investigators, the assistant principal removed Raniya from the classroom and walked her to the front office before retrieving the other student from the classroom and walking her to the front office.
Maj. Jason Chapman, one of the lead investigators on the case, said during that time, neither student showed signs of injury and Raniya did not complain of pain until about 10 minutes later.
Strickland, the sheriff, said a school resource officer was on campus when the fight occurred.
Speaking on behalf of Raniya’s mother, Ashley Wright, attorney Margie Pizarro read a statement saying Wright thanks the investigators and respects their initial findings, but does not feel this is the end of the story.
Pizarro said Wright has hired her own private investigator who’s interviewed students who were at the school when the fight occurred.
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