You don't cut some corners

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It looked awfully silly to have a wounded murder suspect be able to just walk out of the hospital this past weekend. And it was.

But don't blame the hospital.

Hospital patients are free to leave whenever they want -- and in this case, murder suspect Terrence Riley left the hospital ostensibly to smoke a cigarette off campus, as MCG Health Inc. is a smoke-free facility.

He simply chose not to come back -- and authorities searched for him until, luckily, he returned to the emergency room early Tuesday morning. Thankfully, an Aiken, S.C., police officer at the hospital on an unrelated matter happened to recognize Riley.

Riley is suspected in a home invasion in Ridge Spring, S.C., in which the resident, Jerry Tyler, was shot to death. Riley was being treated for shooting injuries allegedly tied to the home invasion.

Aiken County, S.C., officials said they felt safe leaving Riley unguarded and not under arrest at the hospital because of his injuries, which they said were critical. Ultimately, though, it's clear Riley was in much better shape than that; in fact, our information indicates he was in good condition.

Regardless, Aiken County apparently decided not to place Riley under arrest while he was in the hospital in order to avoid being responsible for his medical bills.

We appreciate government officials who try to cut down on costs. But in this case, it was a huge mistake. There are just some corners you don't cut. And keeping watch on suspected killers is one of them.

In our view, Aiken County should have bitten the bullet, placed Riley under arrest immediately, and absorbed the bill.

Instead, officials let a murder suspect walk out of a hospital -- and then tried to blame the hospital.

Let's be clear: Mr. Riley's freedom or lack of it was 100 percent the responsibility of the Aiken County Sheriff's Office. It was reckless for them to leave him unguarded, and unfair to try to shift that responsibility onto caregivers -- who went to medical school, not the police academy.

MCG Health was really the victim in this case. Consider: When a law enforcement agency dodges a medical bill like that, it becomes the hospital's liability.

So let's sum up: Aiken County sheriff's officers left a murder suspect unguarded and not under arrest at MCG Health -- and then talked about what the hospital should have done. Sorry; it simply was not the hospital's job to watch this guy, only to treat him.

Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt is a stand-up guy. We think he should make it clear that the whereabouts of violent criminal suspects under his agency's care and control aren't anyone else's responsibility.

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patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 06/17/09 - 06:45 am
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Well AC, that's the exact

Well AC, that's the exact same conclusion I came up with using the same reasoning. You must be right.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 06/17/09 - 07:24 am
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What a huge relief that PT
Unpublished

What a huge relief that PT has this situation under control. Glory.

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 06/17/09 - 09:59 am
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You'd think the Brian Nichols
Unpublished

You'd think the Brian Nichols murder spree, which left 4 innocent people dead, would have taught us to beef up security with these people. I guess it will take another "mistake" that gets people killed before we realize that we can't treat these dirtbags like naughty children.

mad_max
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mad_max 06/17/09 - 10:02 am
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They should have left him

They should have left him where they found him and just posted a deputy to stand there until he either bled out or died from festering wounds. The hospital isn't absorbing all of this cost. RC taxpayers fork over a ton of money every year for "indigent" care. Why should RC taxpayers foot the bill for this POS? Why should we foot the bill for anyone's medical care. Nobody shows up to pay my bill if I have to go to the hospital. I guess Obama is going to fix all of this with another $1 trillion dollar program. Actually, the Congressional Budget Office says that only pays for 1/3 of the uninsured and that it will take $3 trillion to insure all of them and that, oh by the way, there is NO WAY TO PAY FOR ANY IT without MASSIVE TAX INCREASES. I guess that after we get Universal Healthcare it won't matter how many scumbag criminals Aiken County dumps off at MCG. They can send the bill to Obama and RC can quit paying MCG for "indigent" care. Okay Fred, there is your tax savings to build the TEE.

Jim-bob
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Jim-bob 06/17/09 - 10:20 am
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Great piece. Aiken Co,

Great piece. Aiken Co, dropped the ball on this one and the sheriff should apoligize.

GACopperhead
6
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GACopperhead 06/17/09 - 04:36 pm
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I'm surprised willi isn't in

I'm surprised willi isn't in here defending the guy......

skeptical
84
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skeptical 06/17/09 - 06:29 pm
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You nailed this one. Thanks.

You nailed this one. Thanks.

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