Victim’s family, former Ralston Towers manager weigh-in on resident’s death

COLUMBUS, Ga. — The sister-in-law and daughter of a man who passed away in the Ralston Towers apartment complex Thursday tell News 3 they’re angry. They say, a series of events Friday set them on an emotional roller coaster.

Video shows Regina Draut and Kristy Thornton embracing one another outside of the Ralston Towers Friday evening. This, just one day after the death of their loved one 62-year-old Charles Hart. Draut in the victim’s sister-in-law and Thornton is his daughter. Friday, Draut told News 3, police would not let them inside of Hart’s unit which they say is on the third floor.

“What do they have to hide in there if the room is cool now, please let us know it because the coroner and I left here after an hour and a half last night and the room was still 98.6 degrees,” says Draut.

Draut tells News 3 what happened sometime after Deputy Coroner Freeman Worley arrived on the scene Thursday evening.

“He cut the air down to 67 degrees we stayed in the room until Strifler Hamby came and got my brother-in-law and that was about an hour and then we looked at the thermostat it hadn’t dropped one degrees,” says Draut.

Draut describes to News 3 the condition in which her brother-in-law was found.

“In his under garments..with a fan blowing on him..so..why would he turn his air off?” says Draut.

Both women expressed their frustrations, but they aren’t the only ones. A former manager of the Ralston speaks out.

“The owners will not come off the money…they make enough money down here trust me. I know what this property brings in from the government subsidies,” says the former manager Darlene Vanpelt.

She says there were many issues when she worked at the Ralston Towers, including failed A/C’s and elevators.

“If you’re gonna be a landlord don’t be a slum lord,” Vanpel says.

Kristy Thornton says she was angry and upset about the statement from the owner’s attorney regarding her father’s death. She also says they made it seem like Mr. Hart’s death was his own fault.

Thornton goes on to say he would never have purposely done something that would ultimately lead to his death.

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