Former lawmaker outraged after DUI suspect walks away from custody

Posted at 6:02 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 21:21:39-05

Keri King was a month shy of her 30th birthday last month when she was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver in Bedford County while heading home from work. Now her family and one former state lawmaker want to know why the man who allegedly killed her, was allowed to walk away from police.

Suspect in deadly DUI crash walks away from custody

Edgar Omar Torres-Rangel had left a rodeo on October 21, when according to THP he crossed the center median on Highway 231, striking Keri King's car and killing her instantly. Torres-Rangel was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was treated for injuries sustained in the crash.

According to the THP, on October 22, documents were faxed over to VUMC security staff alerting them to the charges Torres-Rangel was facing: vehicular homicide and driving without a license. Torres-Rangel was supposed to be arrested and booked following his discharge from medical care, but instead he was simply sent home and hasn't been seen since October 22.

According to Ricky Ott's law, which was sponsored by former Rep. Joe Carr, law enforcement officials are required to arrest drivers in accidents that result in serious bodily harm or the death of the other driver if the driver doesn't have insurance or a license. Edgar Torres-Rangel has neither.

"The family deserves an answer because they’re being denied justice. This is a serious matter, we thought we fixed it with the passage of this law but apparently we didn’t because now we have the THP getting their interpretation of why the law doesn’t apply," Joe Carr said in an interview Friday.

"I’m not saying there’s anything nefarious here but the family is owed an explanation because the law is clear," he added.

Keri's older sister Cheri wants to know why no one is taking responsibility for Torres-Rangel being released from the hospital and not taken into custody.

"He's not having to pay for what happened to Keri, he's free and she's no longer with me," Keri's sister Cheri said by phone on Tuesday.

THP officials say it is not their policy to guard suspects 24/7. But VUMC officials say it is not their policy to act as a jail and released this statement.

By now, most area law enforcement agencies are aware that as a health care provider VUMC does not hold patients under arrest and understand that they bear the responsibility for offender custody. We do our best to work collaboratively with local and state agencies on these matters but the ultimate responsibility for legal custody resides with the arresting agency

Torres-Rangel has now been added to the TBI most wanted list. As for Keri King's family, they just want him caught and some to be held accountable for his accidental release.

"I just want justice for Keri, I want her death to mean something because she meant the world to me, I don’t want it to be like it doesn’t matter, she doesn’t matter."