South Carolina

It could take ‘weeks’ for answers in SC girl’s death after school fight, sheriff says

The Colleton County sheriff urged patience as investigators figure out what happened in a classroom fight that left a 10-year-old girl dead.

Fifth-grader RaNiya Wright was airlifted to a hospital Monday after a fight in a Forest Hills Elementary School classroom, according to school officials. She died two days later at a hospital in Charleston.

“Please remain as patient as possible,” Sheriff R.A. Strickland said in a press conference streamed live online by WCSC from Walterboro, South Carolina.

“At this time it is premature to assume whether there will be any criminal charges,” 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said during the press conference.

He said investigators will not get the results from RaNiya’s autopsy for several weeks.

The school suspended a student after the fight, according to a statement from the school district. “Because this is an ongoing investigation, we ask that the community understands that the information we can share is limited,” the district said.

Attorneys for RaNiya’s family issued a statement Friday, calling for more information on what happened to the girl, according to WCSC.

“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,” the attorneys said in a release, WCSC reports. “The family joins the community in its calls for transparency and accountability from the school district and all other individuals involved.”

Officials conducted an autopsy Friday, according to Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey.

The Colleton County School Board held a special meeting Thursday, WLTX reports.

The meeting was closed to the public, WCSC reported.

School board chairman Tim Mabry read a statement after the closed-session meeting: “Forest Hills Elementary and our district as a whole have experienced a great loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wright family. Our district will continue to support them in any way possible as well as offering support to students, community and staff as we deal with this loss,” Mabry said, according to the TV station.

“Our board and district have received multiple requests for information. Due to the ongoing investigation and student privacy laws, we cannot share specific details at this time. ... we request that the public remain patient and focused on supporting this community during this time of tragedy,” he said, WCSC reported.

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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.