NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN)- Every week, the Metro Nashville Police Department warns residents about the dangers of leaving cars unlocked or even left with the keys inside, making them an easy target for thieves. Most of the time, these stolen cars are later used to commit other crimes, and in one case it took a woman’s life.
“She is just one those people that you look for them when you come to work; her smile, and her voice. You just knew she was there,” said Kristina Harris.
Harris described a smile gone too soon. At 41 years old, Lasundra Rice was killed after a hit-and-run collision at 40th Avenue and Albion Street in West Nashville.
“She just loved wholeheartedly and wore her heart on her sleeve. I mean, there was no denying how much she loved,” Harris said.
Police are still on the hunt for the suspect.
Fatal crash investigators were called to the scene just after 8 p.m. June 26. Investigators say, Rice was riding in the passenger seat when the driver of a stolen Hyundai Genesis was traveling “at a high rate of speed” attempted to brake but couldn’t. As a result, he hit the car Rice was traveling in. Rice’s husband was driving.
“I was angry when I found out that the person stole a car back at the end of April, and here it is, the end of June, and he’s still riding in the streets in that vehicle, and drove down 40th Avenue and hit my friend and killed her,” said Harris, as she held back tears.
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According to police, the Hyundai the suspect was driving was reported stolen April 23 from a sports bar on Bell Road. The keys had been left in the car.
Harris says she worked with Rice and, in the short about of time that she got to know her, they became family. She sat down with News 2, as she described how they were close friends and how Rice would often talk about her loving family.
She says this crime hit especially hard, knowing the suspect walked away from the scene.
“[He] walked away, left a family heartbroken, devastated, without the matriarch, you know, the light in the family,” Harris described.
MNPD releases weekly updates on the number of cars stolen throughout the Metro area. A review of last week’s stolen vehicle reports showed that 55% of the cars taken were easy targets because the keys were left inside or made available to thieves.
“I know that justice is going to prevail and someone’s going to turn him in, and I’m not worried about that, but it needs to be sooner than later,” said Harris. “They mourned for her at her favorite holiday, you know it’s unfair. We want justice for her.”
Coworkers of Rice set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral costs, you can find more information here.
Police say the suspect is a man named James. Right now, they do not know his last name. If you know anything about this crime, you are asked to call Metro Police.