The father of a South Carolina student fatally injured in a classroom fight is “distraught” by the lack of information he’s received since his daughter’s death, the man’s attorney said.
Jermaine Van Dyke, the father of fifth-grader RaNiya Wright, broke his silence Monday amid his family and the community’s demand for answers in the little girl’s death. Wright, 10, suffered serious injuries after getting in a fight at Forest Hills Elementary School in Walterboro on March 25. She was airlifted to a Charleston hospital where she died two days later.
“I’m here today looking for justice for my daughter,” Van Dyke told reporters during a news conference outside the school. “I wanted just to find out what happened, how it happened and who was involved.”
According to The Greenville News, a handful of security guards escorted the grieving father to the podium, where he only offered a few words before turning things over to his attorney, Mark Peper, who said his client has received very little information regarding the case. He said Van Dyke’s efforts to contact the school district and local law enforcement has only left them with more questions than answers.
“To date, Mr. Jermaine Van Dyke has been provided no pertinent information from school officials or local law enforcement regarding the death of his daughter while in the custody and care of the school district,” David Aylor Law Offices, another firm representing Van Dyke, said in a press release. “Rightfully so, he’s distraught and frustrated by their lack of communication and their refusal to allow him access to any videos or investigative findings related to this matter.”
“Mr. Van Dyke … vows to fight for the answers his family and this community deserves,” the firm continued.
At Monday’s news conference, attorney Peper said Van Dyke had a meeting with the superintendent but said the sit-down didn’t give any further developments about what happened on March 25. Van Dyke only learned of his daughter’s injuries after a call from his mother, according to his attorney.
An incident report released by the Colleton County Sherriff’s said paramedics arrived to find the 10-year-old unconscious in the nurse’s office after receiving a call about a student who had collapsed. Wright was initially taken to the Colleton County Medical Center, but was then airlifted to Medical University of South Carolina Hospital in Charleston, S.C., in critical condition.
The extent of the child’s injuries from the fight remains unknown and the results of her autopsy, performed last Friday, are still pending.
What is also unclear is whether a teacher was present inside the classroom at the time of the fight. On Monday, Peper confirmed his team has spoken with a teacher who was in the classroom that day, as well as parents of other children at the school.
“We’re still gathering the results of our investigation, but it’s been made pretty clear to us that there has been a pattern of behavior over these last, really four or five years,” he told reporters, later adding: “It would be fair to say that the school was on notice that there were some altercations occurring on a very regular basis between individuals in this specific classroom.”
Wright’s mother, Ashley Wright, has been equally frustrated over the lack of information surrounding her daughter’s death. Ashley Wright is being represented by a different team of attorneys who are demanding to know what happened during the deadly confrontation, and what, if anything, was done to stop it.
“The family joins the community in its calls for transparency and accountability from the school district and all other individuals involved,” the Pizarro Law Firm said in a statement, according to local station WCIV.
Peper said attorneys for both parents have been in constant contact and have formed one “unified front” while working the case.
“I think there’s been some innuendos that there’s been some type of bridge between the family, and we’re here to tell you that’s not the case at all,” he added.
A fifth-grade student has been suspended as a result of the fight, school district officials said. So far, no charges have been filed in the case.
Watch more in the video below.