Fifth-grade girl dies after fight in SC elementary school classroom, police say

The fifth-grade girl who was critically injured in a classroom fight has died, according to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Department.

The South Carolina girl was airlifted from her elementary school Monday, the Colleton County School District said on Facebook.

RaNiya Wright was taken to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston for treatment, where she had been listed in critical condition, according to WCIV.

Wright was 10 years old, Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday at MUSC, he said.

The cause of death is pending the autopsy, according to a news release from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office. A redacted copy of the incident report only identified the suspect as a fifth-grader, but indicated the student was unarmed.

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Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call from Forest Hills Elementary School about a student who “collapsed,” according to the incident report. The student, later identified as RaNiya, “was in the nurses station and was unconscious, but breathing,” before she was taken to the hospital.

“The juvenile receiving care at MUSC in regards to the forest hills incident has passed. We are still unable to disclose any information regarding this incident due to this being an on-going investigation,” Shalane Lowes with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office said in an email Wednesday morning.

The student died at 9:39 a.m. Wednesday, according to a Facebook post from the school district. “We are devastated by this news, and we want our communities to keep their thoughts and prayers with the student’s family at this time,” the district said.

The school district addressed the situation in more detail in a statement released on its website around 1 p.m. Wednesday.

RaNiya was a wonderful student. She loved to write, spend time with her friends, play basketball and loved being a big sister,” the statement said. “She was actively involved in her church as a junior usher. She will be missed greatly by her family, friends and the entire school community.”

A makeshift memorial has been set up outside of the school, and it includes flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals, WCSC reported.

After posting the initial information Wednesday, the school district suspended its Facebook page. “We will temporarily suspend our Facebook page so we can better focus on providing the care that our stakeholders need at this time,” the district wrote Wednesday as it announced the girl’s death.

Another child involved in the fight has been suspended from school indefinitely, the Colleton County School District says,” WCIV reported.

School officials said a crisis response team visited Forest Hills Elementary to “offer support services to students and staff,” according to an earlier post.

“Our entire school district is saddened by this event. It is very difficult to experience the death of a young person,” the school district said in its statement. “We are providing guidance and counseling service to students, staff and family members as needed.”

A GoFundMe campaign set up for the family has raised more than $30,000. The fundraiser organizer updated the campaign Wednesday, writing, “Sending our condolences to the family at this time.”

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said in a statement, “My heart aches for the student’s parents, peers, and the entire Walterboro community as they grieve the loss of a child.”

She said state authorities have offered assistance to local law enforcement and the school district as they investigate and help support the community after the death, according to the statement released on Twitter.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.