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Father 'relieved' after arrest in daughter's hit-and-run killing
BATON ROUGE - Quality police work and tips from the public led to Leah Tatman's family getting a sense of closure.
"I was relieved," said her father, Jay Tatman.
In January, 30-year-old Leah Tatman was walking along Jefferson Highway near Highland Road when she was struck by a vehicle and left for dead. The only evidence found at the scene was the side mirror from a truck, and it's all state troopers had to work with to track down the person responsible.
"When the investigating trooper arrived on scene, the only evidence he had was Ms. Tatman and the mirror fragments. He was able to obtain a serial number from the mirror," State Trooper Taylor Scrantz said.
After narrowing down the make and model of the truck, police then asked the public to help them narrow down their search for the suspect. It eventually led them to Jarrett Rachal.
"Mr. Rachal did admit that he was driving the vehicle during that crash, but we're not going to get too far into the weeds into what he said because this is an ongoing investigation," Scrantz explained.
According to an affidavit, Rachal told police he stopped after hearing a noise and saw his mirror was broken. He claimed he didn't see anything and thought he may have struck "an owl or a sign."
The victim's father, Jay Tatman, doesn't believe that.
"In a truck that size, I think he was afraid after he hit her. He had a bunch of options. He could have turned, and that's what's unfortunate... He chose not to," Tatman said.
Regardless, for Tatman's family, finding the man who left their daughter to die has brought some relief.
"I think justice is that people take this. It was an accident. Leah was in the wrong place at the wrong time. This guy was in the wrong place he shouldn't have been driving," Tatman said. "His license was suspended. He really was crossing a couple lines. So I hope people take this and better their selves for it and learn from it."
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