WHS student knocked out during fight, airlifted to Syracuse hospital

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 2:19 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A fight between two students at Watertown High School ended with one of them losing consciousness and being airlifted to a Syracuse hospital.

That’s according Shawna Dodge, the mother of 16-year-old freshman Gracie Harrelson, the girl who was knocked out.

Dodge says her daughter faces a major suspension. City police confirm they’re investigating the fight between two girls.

“The police officer told my daughter that she was not the victim, which really made me upset,” said Dodge.

Dodge says everybody has it wrong. She says her daughter was involved in a fight last Thursday. She says a student approached Harrelson during lunch, made a cryptic comment, and then attacked her.

Dodge says her daughter struck her head on a table during the fight and was knocked out. Harrelson was flown to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

“No one from the school has reached out to me about my daughter at all to check on her. Absolutely nothing,” said Dodge.

Her mother told 7 News that her daughter was unconscious for 5 to 6 hours before waking up. Even after regaining consciousness, the teen could only communicate by blinking her eyes, according to the mother.

Harrelson didn’t suffer any major injuries. She was released from the hospital that night and is on the road to recovery.

How did the fight happen? Dodge says somebody created a phony social media account pretending to be her daughter and started harassing the other student involved in the fight.

Dodge says it created tension between the two students without Harrelson even knowing about it. Now, she says the school is taking the incident to a school trial.

“The vice-principal told me yesterday this is the first time in Watertown history that they’re taking this to trial,” said Dodge.

That trial will decide Harrelson’s punishment. Dodge says her daughter has already been suspended for five days but could face up to a year suspension. Dodge admits her daughter threw the first punch but says that was out of self-defense.

After watching a video of the fight, Dodge says a teacher was on his phone in the moments leading up to the fight and she believes the teacher could’ve stopped it if they were paying attention.

“We were told yesterday it was okay for him to be on his phone during this time. No phones. You’re working. Absolutely no phones,” said Dodge.

Dodge says she doesn’t feel comfortable sending her daughter back to school yet, and she’s asking the school to cover the medical bills, but the school hasn’t said if it will do so.

Watertown City School District Superintendent Patti LaBarr said state and federal laws prohibit the district from discussing any student-related information.

“Although I cannot discuss specifics, what I can tell you is that we have seen an increase in student misconduct,” she said in an email.

LaBarr added that safety is always a top priority in the Watertown school district.

Copyright 2022 WWNY. All rights reserved.