An autopsy report concluded that a South Carolina fifth-grader who was involved in a classroom fight died afterward of natural causes, and documents released Thursday show she had visited a doctor 13 times for symptoms relating to her cause of death.
The March 27 death of Raniya Wright, 10, a student at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro, was the result of a brain hemorrhage caused by an arteriovenous malformation, also known as AVM, her autopsy showed.
Raniya’s death garnered national attention after her family speculated that she died because of a fight with another student who had been bullying her for some time.
But the girl’s medical history shows, dating back to October 2015, she was taken to 13 doctor appointments, most of which stemmed from symptoms including “moderate” headaches and dizziness. The most recent appointment was March 12, just two weeks before Raniya’s death.
Headaches are a symptom of AVMs, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Her family, including mother Ashley, has said in the weeks since their daughter’s death that concerns they raised with the school district about bullying fell on deaf ears. She declined to comment Thursday.
The family was represented by attorney Margie Pizzaro until recently. The Summerville lawyer declined to comment.
The autopsy report conclusion is one that reinforces other findings announced last month by the Colleton County solicitor and coroner.
“There was no external or internal traumatic injury noted,” the report said. “Furthermore, the manner of death is best deemed natural.”
Last month, Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey and 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone announced no charges would be pursued against the other student and that no evidence had surfaced indicating the classroom fight caused the fifth-grader’s death.
In the medical examiner’s report, a pathologist concluded Wright died “as a result of acute intracranial hemorrhage due to a ruptured cerebellar arteriovenous vascular malformation.”
AVMs are abnormal connections of arteries and veins that are considered the “leading cause of hemorrhage(s) in children and young adults,” according to a report published by the National Institutes of Health.
According to the 10-year-old’s medical history, Raniya Wright had never been diagnosed with the congenital disorder that medical officials said killed her — or any formal ailment at all.
After Raniya’s death, Colleton County deputies said the final fight was prompted by arguing between the two girls who were exchanging insults about each others’ mothers, according to the investigative report.
It started earlier in the day in gym class, according to an audio interview also released Thursday of the school’s gym teacher.
He said the two girls were arguing before they went outside to play wiffle ball. He asked them if they would stop, and they agreed. There weren’t any issues for the remainder of that class period.
But the dispute escalated between the two girls later in the day.
The substitute teacher who was in charge of the girls’ classroom March 25 told investigators she had her back turned when the fight turned physical.
In a written statement, the unidentified substitute teacher acknowledged Raniya and the other student had been bickering all day.
“I do not know what made the two young ladies fight,” the substitute teacher wrote in a statement. “I do know they were arguing back and forth previous to the altercation.”
The students threw paper balls at one another and hit each other on the back and head. Some students told authorities the other student placed Raniya in a chokehold and, at one point, slammed her into a cabinet, causing a picture frame to fall on her head, according to the report.
The substitute teacher separated the girls and summoned an assistant principal to the classroom and escorted the students out of class to the office. On the way, Raniya began complaining her head hurt, authorities said.
Soon after, Raniya dropped to the ground and had to be lifted and carried by the assistant principal and a guidance counselor, each of them on either side, according to the school nurse’s written summary provided to Ashley Wright.
The nurse also wrote in her report that there were no visible injuries anywhere on Raniya’s body, including on her head.
Within minutes of arriving at the nurse’s station, Raniya vomited and became verbally unresponsive, the report said.
She was ultimately airlifted to Medical University Hospital where she died two days later. The other student was suspended, officials said, and has since left the school.