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South Carolina fifth-grader in school fight died from natural causes, prosecutor says

Posted at 11:43 AM, Apr 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-19 11:43:37-04

South Carolina fifth-grader Raniya Wright — the student who died last month after a fight at her elementary school — died of natural causes, and there’s no evidence the fight contributed to her death, prosecutor Duffie Stone said Friday.

“There was no evidence of trauma on or inside her body … that would indicate that any fight (of) any magnitude contributed to her death,” Stone, the area solicitor, said at a news conference.

“There will be no criminal charges brought,” he said.

Raniya, 10, died of a rupture in the brain related to a birth defect — an “arteriovenous malformation” — that was ready to take place “just about any time,” and the “fight did not have anything to do with her passing away,” Stone said.

She was involved in a “five- to 10-second slap fight” with another student in a classroom at Forest Hills Elementary in Walterboro on March 25, and a teacher separated them, Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland said Friday. Raniya had no sign of and complained of no injury, but complained of a headache about 10 minutes later at the principal’s office.

Authorities have said she then lost consciousness, and medics took her to a hospital. She died at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston on March 27.

Stone said Raniya had visited a doctor at least six times relating to headaches since February 2017, including 13 days before the fight.

“The headaches are a manifestation” of “this type of condition,” he said.

“It was a matter of time,” he said.

Stone, as well as Strickland and Richard Harvey, the county coroner, announced at the news conference their initial findings in the investigation of the 10-year-old’s death.

It’s not clear what led to the confrontation between Raniya and another student at Forest Hills Elementary in Walterboro, about an hour’s drive west of Charleston.

Raniya’s father, Jermaine Van Dyke, and his attorney, Mark Peper, were scheduled to meet with the solicitor Friday morning before the news conference.

An attorney for Raniya’s mother, Ashley Wright, could not be reached on Thursday.

Raniya died two days after what authorities say was a fight on March 25. The fight did not involve weapons, according to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials said they stopped the fight, and Raniya was taken to the school nurse’s station.

Speaking to “Good Morning America” earlier this month, Wright said Raniya’s friends told her that a bully had been baiting the 10-year-old into a fight and caused her to hit her head on a bookshelf before she died.