NORTH CHARLESTON — An Academic Magnet High School student who set himself on fire Wednesday has died from his injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Aaron Williams, 16, died sometime this afternoon, said Olena Scarborough, marketing director at Doctors Hospital in Augusta.
After news of the boy's death reached Charleston County School District officials, a statement from Superintendent Nancy McGinley was released.
“Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy," McGinley stated. "On behalf of the entire Charleston County School District, I offer my deepest condolences to the Williams family. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
“We pledge our full and continued support for the Academic Magnet and School of the Arts communities, and are here to provide them with whatever assistance they need during this incredibly difficult time.”
Earlier today, North Charleston police said the student poured accelerant on his body and started the fire himself.
Students at the Academic Magnet High School-School of the Arts campus used a fire extinguisher to douse their burning classmate as teachers then wrapped him with a blanket until authorities arrived early Wednesday morning, according to a 911 recording released by authorities.
Receptionist Dora Hartsell called 911 about 8:20 a.m. and told a dispatcher that a student was on fire in front of the administration building. She then calmly gave the address of the North Charleston school.
"Did you say a child on fire?" the dispatcher asked Hartsell.
Hartsell initially referred to the student as a she.
"They're putting her out with an extinguisher and there are people out there assisting her," Hartsell said, as distraught voices shout in the background.
Hartsell said she didn't know how the fire happened.
"A teacher has already gone outside and covered her with a blanket and students have gone out there with an extinguisher," she said.
Charleston County EMS Director Don Lundy said the student was taken to the Medical University Hospital in "very critical" condition. He was later taken to the burn center.
North Charleston issued a news release today saying the fire was a result of the victim's desire to harm himself. The release said the victim's clothing was saturated with accelerant and then ignited.
At no time was there a threat to to the school, to other students, or to the staff, the release said.
Parents and students described a very somber and stunned mood at the school Wednesday. The Charleston County School district brought in a team of counselors to help.
Parents say many of the students circulated a text Wednesday night urging one another to wear white today and red tomorrow in support of Williams.
Check back with postandcourier.com as more details become available.
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