Sheriff: Nine-year-old 'run to death' by grandmother - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Sheriff: Nine-year-old 'run to death' by grandmother

Joyce Hardin Garrard (left) and Jessica Mae Hardin (right) have been charged in Savannah Hardin's death. Joyce Hardin Garrard (left) and Jessica Mae Hardin (right) have been charged in Savannah Hardin's death.
Sheriff Todd Entrekin spoke about the murder charges at a press conference Wednesday. Sheriff Todd Entrekin spoke about the murder charges at a press conference Wednesday.

ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - A nine-year-old girl was "run to death" by her grandmother as punishment for eating candy on a school bus, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin said Wednesday in a news conference.

The girl, Savannah Hardin, apparently ate a candy bar while on the school bus Friday, Feb. 17. She apparently had a bladder condition that could have been worsened by eating the candy, according to the sheriff.

Entrekin says the girl's grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, allegedly punished Savannah for eating the candy and lying to her by making her run without stopping around the house for about three hours. The incident happened at a residence at 20 Carlisle Acres Drive in the Carlisle community.

Around 6:45 p.m. Friday, Savannah's stepmom, Jessica Mae Hardin, called 911 to report that her daughter was having seizures and was unresponsive. Savannah was taken first to a hospital in Gadsden and then transported to Children's Hospital in Birmingham.

Savannah's father was working for the government overseas when he was notified about his daughter's condition. He took eight flights to get home and made it to the hospital four hours before Savannah was taken off the ventilator. Savannah died at approximately noon on Monday, Feb. 20. Her body was taken to Huntsville for an autopsy and ruled a homicide by a state pathologist.

The preliminary reports show she was severely dehydrated and her 65-pound frame was in a condition similar to a marathon runner without water, Entrekin said. She also had low sodium levels.

The girl's grandmother, Joyce Hardin Garrard, 46, and her stepmom, Jessica Mae Hardin, 27, have both been charged with murder in Savannah's death. They are being held in the Etowah County Detention Center on bonds of $500,000 each. Their charges could be upgraded. Jessica Hardin is also pregnant and is expected to give birth any day. Another child, Savannah's three-year-old stepbrother, was also in the home when the incident occurred.

The Etowah County Sheriff's Office became involved in the case when concerned citizens called to report what they had seen.

"It's sad when a family is grieving over the death of a daughter and granddaughter and so soon to find out that the death could have been prevented. My thoughts and prayers are with the family," Entrekin said.

Savannah was a third grader at Carlisle Elementary School. Grief counselors are at the school helping her classmates cope with her death. Her desk has been turned into a memorial.

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