South Carolina fifth-grader in school fight died from natural causes, no charges will be filed

Raniya Wright suffered from a brain arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.
Image: RaNiya Wright, 10, died after an altercation at her South Carolina school on March 27, 2019.
RaNiya Wright, 10, died after an altercation at her South Carolina school on March 27, 2019.Ash Wright / via Facebook

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By David K. Li

A 10-year-old South Carolina girl died from a rare brain condition and not as a result of a classroom fight, officials said Friday.

No charges will be filed in connection to the death of Raniya Wright, a fifth-grader from Forest Hills Elementary School, said 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone.

"There was no evidence of trauma either inside the body or outside the body to indicate that a fight of any magnitude to contributed to" the girl's death, Stone said.

"There were no bruises, no cuts, no scrapes, no busted lips, no black eyes. Internally, the tissue that was tested also did not show any other trauma. The only trauma was limited in scope to the rupture that took place in the brain."

Pathologists found that Wright had been suffering from a brain arteriovenous malformation, a tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain, Stone told reporters on Friday.

Raniya got into a "slap fight," lasting only a few seconds, with another student on March 25, officials said. She complained of headaches, threw up and passed out several minutes later before she was rushed to the hospital, authorities said.

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The prosecutor insisted there's no evidence that could have led him to bring a criminal case.

"In this case, the science was very clear. The science shows us that her death was natural and that there was no contributing factor to that, other than the natural progression of what turns out to be birth defect."

Raniya died March 27 at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

The girl's mother has said her daughter had been long bullied by the classmate involved in that fight.

A lawyer for the Raniya's mother thanked investigators for all their work, but still insisted the girl was subjected to relentless bullying that had been unchecked by the school.

"While we certainly respect the efforts and the initial — and I'm going to stress the word 'initial' — findings that have been presented to us today, we certainly know that this is not where the story ends," said Margie Pizarro, lawyer for Raniya's mother, Ashley Wright. "This is just the very beginning."

Mark Peper, an attorney for Raniya's father, Jermaine Van Dyke, said they'll conduct their own review of the coroner's findings.

"Mr. Van Dyke appreciates the efforts made by law enforcement to date that allowed for some of his many questions to be answered this morning," Peper said in a statement on Friday.

"Our team will be reviewing all medical and investigative reports in the coming days in an effort to better understand the events leading up to Raniya’s tragic death."

The girl who fought with Raniya was transferred to an alternative school, Colleton County School District Superintendent Franklin Foster said Friday.

The education chief also insisted the district could not locate any documentation showing that Raniya's family had told school officials that the girl was a bullying victim.

“We cannot find any information through our systems and our channels that we use to track communications with parents of being any confirmed communications that stated that to any of our staff,” Foster said.