The current whereabouts of a man who allegedly drove drunk and killed a 29-year-old Bedford County woman and was taken into custody for it last month are unknown, even to Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing.
That man, Omar Edgar Torres-Rangel, is an illegal immigrant, according to sources.
District Attorney Robert Carter, meanwhile, refused to answer when asked if he knows Torres-Rangel’s present location.
Officials with the Tennessee Highway Patrol worked the crash scene the night of Oct. 21. Torres-Rangel sustained critical injuries. According to numerous sources, authorities transported Torres-Rangel to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
What happened to him afterward is a mystery.
Vanderbilt Medical Center spokesman Craig Boerner told The Tennessee Star the hospital had no patient by that name as of Wednesday. Boerner said he could provide no other information.
Keri King was the woman who died in the crash. Her brother, Willie King, said no one in law enforcement can give him or his family any answers.
“He was an illegal, and he just walked out of the hospital, and now they are looking for him. I don’t know how that happened. Those are answers we are trying to get,” King said.
“How did I find out he walked out (of Vanderbilt)? We just kept asking questions and found out he’s not there anymore. We don’t know exactly how he got out of there. He’s not in jail. We’ve already checked that.”
For his part, the sheriff confirmed he is not in the county jail.
“I guess Vanderbilt or the Tennessee Highway Patrol don’t have an obligation to tell me where he is. After all, it was a wreck worked by the THP and not us,” Swing said.
Swing said he had not asked either Vanderbilt or the THP what became of Torres-Rangel.
‘They don’t seem to know anything’
King said THP officials “have been more helpful than anybody” in getting information back to the family.
“As for the sheriff’s department, they don’t seem to know anything,” King said.
“The Tennessee Highway Patrol, at least they talk to us a little bit.”
When contacted, THP spokesman Chris Dye said he didn’t know where Torres-Rangel was as of Wednesday.
“It’s not uncommon for an individual to not be arrested the night of (a crash) because of the whole collections process, the evidence procedures, the toxicology. There are a lot of factors from the time of the crash to the time of presentment to a grand jury if that’s the decision the district attorney wants to go to,” Dye said.
“There are two specific paths the criminal justice goes on on a vehicular homicide or a traffic crash resulting in a death and that is charges the night of or a direct presentment to the grand jury.”
THP officials, Dye added, “always go under the direction of the district attorney.”
To that, Dye referred all other questions to Bedford County District Attorney Robert Carter.
When contacted, Carter said there is an ongoing investigation into the vehicular homicide and there are warrants out on Torres-Rangel.
“Beyond that I don’t think that, ethically, I can talk about what’s going on. I don’t think I can say any more than that,” Carter said.
The Star asked Carter if Vanderbilt turned Torres-Rangel loose on his own.
“I can’t answer that,” Carter said.
Does Carter know Torres-Rangel’s current whereabouts?
“That’s what I don’t think I’m allowed to speak on. I’m not going to answer that. That is an ethical call on my part as the elected district attorney. I don’t want to jeopardize not only the investigation, but if we end up on trial with this then I certainly don’t want to say anything now that will jeopardize that case.”
The Star then asked about perceptions and how people in and around Bedford County might think this seems fishy.
To that, Carter said this:
“You asked me if I knew his whereabouts, and I told you I didn’t have a comment,” Carter said.
“I will leave it at that.”
The sheriff said he understands Willie King’s frustration.
“I feel confident he will be found and arrested and when he is he will be brought back to the Bedford County Jail,” Swing said.
Willie King, meanwhile, said his sister was coming home from Murfreesboro when she died.
“A lot of people are stirred up about this,” King said.
“Our main concern was we didn’t want him (Torres-Rangel) to get loose, but it looks like that’s what has happened.”
As reported, one Bedford County commissioner, who asked that we not disclose his name, at least not now, wrote a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and asked for their help with illegal immigrant activity.
In the letter, that commissioner cited the Torres-Rangel case.
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