FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – The father of a Florence District One seventh grade student filed a lawsuit against the district after his daughter was taken to the hospital with a blood-alcohol level of .271 after a day at school.
According to a lawsuit filed May 26 by the Wukela Law Firm on behalf of the Florence man and the 12-year-old girl, whose identities were not revealed as the lawsuit claims “allegations of a personal and private nature,” claims the school district and its employees failed to properly care for and monitor the young girl while she was in school and under the care of the district.
The court documents detail how the 7th grader on or about September 19, 2016 rode the school bus as normal to Sneed Middle School. That afternoon, the girl’s parents received a call notifying them of “an emergency situation involving their daughter who had just arrived in their neighborhood via a school bus.”
The parents ran down the street to where their daughter got off the bus and found her lying on the ground, in a puddle of water in a ditch, face down and nonresponsive, the lawsuit reads.
The young girl was taken to McLeod Regional Medical Center where she was diagnosed as having “overdosed on alcohol to the point of having a blood-alcohol level of .271 and suffering acute respiratory failure with hypoxia.” The lawsuit says the 12-year-old was admitted to the PICU and intubated.
Immediately after the medical diagnosis and treatment, the girl’s father contacted Sneed Middle School and demanded answers as to how his daughter came to be intoxicated and was allowed onto a school bus and then off of the bus in her condition, records state. The principal was unable to answer the father’s questions at that time.
Following that conversation, the girl’s parents met with district officials and were allowed to view security video from the school bus the day of the incident. The lawsuit describes the video as “disturbing,” and says over the course of 40 minutes, the child can be seen acting abnormally, to the point of being disoriented.
The lawsuit says the 12-year-old is seen “doubled over between the seat and the seat back in front of her,” and when the bus driver comes to the girl’s normal stop, the girl is “so unaware of her surroundings, that the bus driver has to ask her, ‘Young lady, isn’t this your stop?’”
The girl is seen having major difficulty getting her belongings together to get off the bus, dropping her items numerous times and, at one point, collapsing in the middle aisle of the bus, the lawsuit claims. Several students attempt to help her stand up and gather her things. She apologizes, and the bus driver says, “You’re alright.”
Video shows the young girl again falling, nearly running into the bus driver, while attempting to get off the bus, and the driver asks, “What’s wrong with you? Do I need to call the ambulance or something?” The driver then comments, “Nah, ain’t nothing wrong with you,” the lawsuit documents.
The bus driver opens the doors for the girl to exit, but she “instead basically rolls out of the door straight on to the ground,” court documents say. When the girl eventually stands up, she’s called back to the bus to pick up items she dropped on the way out. At this point, the bus driver calls into base that he has a child “acting very erratic.”
The bus driver follows the girl as she attempts to walk down the street, and the lawsuit describes how all the kids on the bus “exclaim” as something happens off camera. When the front camera of the bus is again on the girl, it appears she has fallen face-first into a puddle about 20 yards from the bus.
The driver gets off the bus, walks over to the girl, “appears to touch her and speak to her,” and then “turns around, shrugs his shoulders and walks back to the bus leaving [the girl] face down in the puddle,” the lawsuit claims. The driver radios to base asking for the girl’s parents to be contacted and an ambulance sent.
Eventually EMS and the girl’s parents arrive and the girl is taken to the hospital where she spent three days receiving medical treatment and was then “involuntarily placed in a treatment facility out-of-town and transported there by law enforcement, where she was housed for approximately five days.”
The girl disclosed during her medical treatment that “she had been forced to participate in oral sex with another student while at school” when she was in the fourth grade as a student at Royall Elementary. The court documents also say during her treatment, it was discovered that the girl was suffering from depression. The girl’s parents were unaware of the sexual incident at Royall Elementary School, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit concludes that the South Carolina Department of Education and Florence School District One were negligent in their care and responsibility of the girl by failing to protect her from harm, failing to provide adequate safety measures, and failing to supervise and train employees in recognizing dangerous or harmful medical or health conditions and how to handle them in a safe manner.
The girl’s parents are seeking “actual and consequential damages resulting from personal injury” due to pain and suffering, stress, anguish and anxiety, and medical costs.
Public Information Officer for Florence School District One Pam Little-McDaniel, says the district is “not at liberty to comment on this legal matter” and directed us to contact the district’s attorney. News13 called the attorney, who was not in the office at the time.