Exactly a year ago, a Chester County boy became a hero – then died.
On a stretch of road with no sidewalks in Chester, just outside the city limits – a place that a year later still has no sidewalks – the world found out that La’Darious Wylie was the most heroic kid in America.
La’Darious saved his baby sister from being struck by a car at a school bus stop – a spot where kids still wait for the bus while standing on the side of Dye Street, next to where the weeds are knee-high.
“La’Darious Wylie’s name should be known by everyone in America when they look to see what it means to be a hero,” said Michael Halsey, a Chester community activist who fought to have La’Darious honored with a monument that so far has not been erected. “He saved his sister. He gave his life for her.”
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An 11-year-old black kid in South Carolina, where blacks for so long have endured treatment as less than equal to whites, showed the rest of us what humanity is.
What heroism is.
La’Darious was just over 4 and half feet tall and weighed 75 pounds. No man has ever been bigger.
While waiting for the morning school bus before dawn on Oct. 27, 2015, just down the street from where he lived with his family, La’Darious pushed his younger sister, ShaVonta, out of the way as a car came toward her. La’Darious was crushed by the car. He was rushed by helicopter to a Charlotte hospital, where his mother, Elizabaeth McCrorey, heroically chose to donate his organs so that other children might live.
McCrorey also chose not to hate Michelle Johnson, the Chester woman charged with felony hit and run resulting in death. Johnson is accused of driving from the scene after hitting La’Darious. She was not arrested for three days and has yet to face trial. She faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
Johnson, 58, who had no criminal record before the crash, has never commented on the death of La’Darious Wylie or said why she drove away.
The S.C. Attorney General’s Office, prosecuting Johnson, has done nothing except get an indictment against her. Johnson’s lawyer, Chester Public Defender Mike Lifsey, said no trial date has been set. Lifsey said he doesn’t want Johnson commenting on the pending case. He, too, has no comment.
The courts stand still in Chester County as the school buses roll on streets without sidewalks where a child died as a hero.
“We will honor La’Darious here at school where his sister still is with us with a moment of silence Thursday,” said Tammy Graham, principal at Chester Park Elementary School of Literacy through Technology. “He deserves it. La’Darious will always be our hero.”
A year ago, The Herald reported on La’Darious’ heroism. Media from all over the world followed in telling of his greatness. Social media erupted.
The Huffington Post, the Daily Mail in England, People.com, the New York Daily News raced to tell of the boy’s selflessness. The S.C. General Assembly gave La’Darious’ family a proclamation honoring his courage.
The city of Chester sought to name a park after him, but the plan failed. The neighborhood property where the park is, near the site of the crash, is owned by a foundation, not the city.
A company in Greenville offered to give tens of thousands of dollars to put up playground equipment.
It all died under bureaucracy.
No monument. No plaque. No sign.
“A missed opportunity,” said Halsey, the activist. “Here we have a child showing all of us how to be a hero, and nothing happened.”
Even the sidewalks, talked about by public officials since, have not changed – yet.
That’s the difference between governments and a tiny kid who loved football and gymnastics and school and his family. La’Darious Wylie did not think, hold meetings, discuss or start focus groups. He did not worry about cost.
When that car raced toward his sister, La’Darious lunged and pushed her into the weeds. He was struck instead, and he died.
“I get goosebumps thinking about it a year later,” said Alex Oliphant, the Chester County Council member who has led the fight to get sidewalks and lights in the spot where La’Darious became a hero. “I am an adult, and I hope I would have the courage to do what he did for his sister. He made the ultimate sacrifice. It is mind-blowing, what this young man did. It is a true lesson in love.”
Sidewalks in the area were estimated to cost as much as $800,000, said Chester County Supervisor Shane Stuart. This year, the county did not have the money.
But both Stuart and Oliphant said it is a project that deserves to get done. Oliphant said he is still hunting for state, federal and other money to make it happen.
Some new lights have been put up.
“The sidewalks haven’t been forgotten, and La’Darious Wylie has not been forgotten,” Oliphant said. “Chester will never forget its hero.”