When Tammy Graham, principal at the Chester Park Center of Literacy through Technology, got the call Tuesday morning, the only thing she knew was a student at one of three elementary schools in the complex off S.C. 9 had been injured while waiting for a school bus and was being taken to Chester Regional Medical Center.
Graham immediately left school for the hospital. Five minutes later, she learned it was one of her own students, fifth-grader La’Darious Tyres Wylie.
Before she arrived at the hospital, Graham learned La’Darious was being sent to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
She turned her car around and headed to Charlotte, arriving at the hospital before the family. The doctors told her everything they were doing. After La’Darious’ mom, Liz, arrived, Graham accompanied her to see her child.
La’Darious gave no indication he recognized his principal. Graham said she didn’t talk.
“Mainly, I just prayed.”
Wednesday afternoon, La’Darious died of his injuries from the hit-and-run accident.
Officers are investigating the hit-and-run case.
UPDATE: An arrest has been made. Michelle Johnson, 57, is charged with hit-and-run in an accident involving death.
The accident and death have left the victim’s family, fellow students and Chester residents saddened and shocked.
Kimberly Robinson, a cousin, said Thursday, “I don’t now how that person can sleep at night knowing they hit a child.”
La’Darious, 11, was waiting for a school bus at the corner of Ashford and Dye streets with his younger sister around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday when he was hit by a vehicle.
A witness told the Chester Police Department a car did not stop after hitting the boy, and fled the scene. The S.C. Highway Patrol responded and assisted with the investigation. Robinson said other reports say the car briefly stopped and then left the scene.
On Thursday, La’Darious’ family kept to themselves at their Ashford home, about 100 yards from the bus stop.
Robinson and Jannie Dash, an aunt, patiently answered questions from the media, saying most of all, La’Darious will be remembered for his smile.
Dash said the accident has deeply affected the students at her nephew’s school, including her 11-year-old granddaughter Zanobia Williams, who had attended school with La’Darious, starting in kindergarten.
Several children at the bus stop witnessed the accident. They did not attend school Tuesday, Graham said. Chester County school district counselors visited those children Tuesday and counselors were at the school Wednesday and Thursday to talk with students and staff who may have needed assistance.
On Thursday, Graham remembered La’Darious as a child who was quiet, sweet, “eager to learn,” technologically savvy and a tumbler who performed at talent shows.
“Everyone that knew him loved him,” she said.
Graham, too, talked of his smile, saying,“his infectious smile will forever be remembered.”
Graham and La’Darious also shared a “special” connection with football. He was a member of Graham’s “Football 101” club which helps students learn reading, writing, math, history and technology through the game and its history.
While La’Darious was a Baltimore Ravens fan, Graham said he was looking forward to an upcoming field trip to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, home of the Carolina Panthers.
La’Darious’ family has decided to donate his organs to help others, Graham said.
“I find comfort and peace that even in his death, this child’s life had purpose,” Graham said of the organ donation.
Want to help?
Two accounts have been set up to help the family of La’Darious Wylie with funeral expenses. Donations may be made at any First Citizens Bank or through a GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/jt7hwr9g
Donations also may be made to Kings Funeral Home, 135 Cemetery St. in Chester, said Kimberly Robinson, a cousin.