A Central Texas man kidnapped and beaten into a coma died Friday afternoon after being taken off life support at a Fort Worth hospital earlier in the afternoon. [[296626911,L]]
Kevin Garcia, 55, was attacked and kidnapped early Tuesday outside the College Station Exxon store where he worked. He was found in the bed of his truck Tuesday evening near the 14200 block of Tijuana Trail in Haslet, authorities said, more than 175 miles from home.
His suspected attacker, 36-year-old Nathaniel Tillery, was arrested a short time later and remains in jail on bond.
Garcia was rushed to John Peter Smith Hospital in critical condition where he remained in a coma. His sister, Denise Etherton, stayed by his bedside the entire time saying, "He didn't want to die alone."
After consulting with doctors Thursday night, Garcia's family gave permission for him to be removed from life support. Since he was an organ donor, Garcia wasn't removed from life support until Friday afternoon so that teams could be put in place to accept his life-saving donations.
According to the Tarrant County medical examiner, Garcia died at 1:36 p.m. His cause of death has not yet been released.
Etherton released the following statement on social media Friday morning:
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“It is with great sadness that Bill and I had to say goodbye to my brother, Kevin Garcia. After many tests and discussions with doctors it was decided to remove Kevin from the ventilator. The head trauma from the beating was only minor, however the lack of oxygen to his brain was devastating. Additionally, his kidneys were shutting down and he was completely unresponsive. The doctors said the damage was permanent and that he would not recover. Even though his heart and lungs are in excellent condition, he is not able to breathe enough to sustain life. Kevin is an organ donor and hopefully his last act will be to help others.”
The hospital, Friday, issued the following statement: “We are honored that we are able to help fulfill Mr. Garcia’s wishes so that his organs will immediately be used to help save lives."
Kristen Newcomer, with the hospital, said she spoke with Garcia’s sister who said, “We’re grateful that Kevin’s death will have the chance to extend life for others, he was proud to be an organ donor and I know he’s happy that with his dying wish he’s able to save other lives.”
LifeGift Facilitates Organ Donations at JPS
On Friday, a special LifeGift flag was raised outside the hospital to honor Kevin Garcia’s gift of life. Newcomer said the flag will fly for 24 hours and then will be given to Garcia’s family.
According to LifeGift, there are 120,000 patients nationwide waiting on the national transplant list, including 13,600 Texans.
“One person can save up to eight lives through organ donation,” said Tasha Horton with LifeGift. “We are offering hope to those families who are having to deal with a very tragic situation.”
Arrest of Kidnapping, Assault Suspect
Police arrested Nathaniel Tillery and charged him with robbery, kidnapping and assault in Garcia's case.
Officers transferred Tillery to the Brazos County jail Thursday, where he is being held on $520,000 bond.
Police have not yet revealed any new charges in light of Garcia's death Friday.
Investigators have not revealed a motive in the assault or why Garcia was taken more than 175 miles from his home.
"I'd ask him why. Why did you put him in the truck? Why didn't you leave him at the gas station?" said Etherton. "If he had been left on the ground, take the truck, he would have been found an hour later, instead of being found 11 or 12 hours later."
NBC 5's Katy Blakey, Jeff Smith, Ray Villeda, Ben Russell, Holley Ford and Frank Heinz contributed to this report. A previous report said Garcia had been taken off life support Friday evening. We regret the error.