Savannah Hardin Punished to Death, Two Arrested

Police have charged two women for the death of 9-year-old Savannah Hardin who ran to her death in Alabama Monday.

As punishment for eating a candy bar on the school bus, Savannah was forced to run for three hours by her grandmother Joyce Hardin Garrard, and stepmother Jessica Hardin. As a result of the punishment, the 9-year-old collapsed and later died.

Jessica Hardin called police following Savannah's run Friday evening reporting that the child was having a seizure and unresponsive.

Savannah died Monday at the Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., according to a news release from the Etowah County Sheriff's Office. The report also revealed autopsy findings that the girl was severely dehydrated and had a very low sodium level. An Alabama pathologist ruled her death as a homicide.

Eyewitness Roger Simpson told police he saw a young girl running on Friday.

"I saw her running down there [the road] that's what I told the detectives," said Simpson, according to The Associated Press. "But I didn't see anybody chasing or coercing her."

Authorities are trying to determine if Savannah was running because of verbal commands or by physical force.

Eating the candy bar may have worsened a possible bladder condition Savannah suffered from, one official told WBRC-TV.

Savannah's stepmother and grandmother are both being held on $500,000 bond in the Etowah County Jail. Shortly after being arrested, pregnant Jessica Hardin delivered her child in a local hospital while under guard of deputies, the TV station WBRC reported.

Savannah's father made it to his daughter's side just four hours before she died, reported New York Daily News.

At Savannah's school, Carlisle Elementary, students and teachers left notes and pictures on her desk as part of a memorial for their student and classmate on Wednesday.

Principal Donna Johnson said that Savannah's absence has been felt every moment since her death.

"I think the hardest part is seeing that one class line up and there is one missing… Even her teacher counts every time they go to the restroom," explained Principal Johnson speaking to WBRC. "They come back and see if everyone is out. It's a reminder that Savannah is not there and that's very hard for her. I can just see it on her face."

Johnson noted, "All that I hold on to at this point is that many people loved her and that she knew Jesus loved her."

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