Last Updated: Monday, 4:26 p.m.
Thomas Francis Rando, the 33-year-old Bunnell man who drove–without a license–the truck that crashed and killed 10-year-old passenger Hannah Beard and critically injured her mother on I-95 two years ago, died of a drug overdose Saturday morning at a house in Palm Coast’s Woodlands.
Rando, a convicted felon with a dozen arrests in Flagler County since 2008, was on probation for felony drug offenses, and was awaiting trial on a third-degree felony charge of driving on a suspended license and causing death or serious injury. He was out on bond, due in court on Feb. 11 for a pre-trial following his arrest on the felony driving charge less than a year ago. His pre-trial release order forbade him from consuming alcohol or illegal drugs or having contact with the victims who survived the crash. He was re-arrested last September for violating his pre-trial release order and released after bond was raised to $10,000–which he posted.
The maximum penalty Rando faced had he been found guilty was five years in prison.
“I think my boyfriend OD’d,” she tells the dispatcher through tears.
“Is he breathing?” the dispatcher asks after asking what he may have taken.
“No,” the girlfriend replies.
The dispatcher asked his girlfriend if she wanted to try CPR. She refers to a nurse in the house and tells the dispatcher she did not think it was worth it–“she told me it’s not even worth it, I don’t even know–what to do,” she says.
“It’s up to you, if you want to try CPR, I can tell you how to do it,” the dispatcher says.
Audio: The 911 Call
He felt “a little bit” cold to the touch. The woman said she had last seen him an hour earlier. (Two minutes into the call, the woman says a nurse has started CPR.) The girlfriend is given a choice–she can leave the room if she prefers, or keep the dispatcher informed if Rando starts breathing again. She continues to answer the dispatcher’s questions. About three minutes into the call, she goes outside to wait for the ambulance, but she continues to speak with the dispatcher.
“Has he ever overdosed before?” the dispatcher asks.
“Not like this,” the woman answers, saying he may have been “out for a minute here and there, but not like this.”
The dispatcher asked her how he was when she’d seen him an hour before. “He was breathing,” she said. “I thought he was just sleeping, but–I checked his pulse and I checked his breathing and he was fine.”
“But he had his eyes closed?”
“From what you could see were there any needles around him, just for safety reasons?” the dispatcher asks.
The woman confirms there were. “I took one already, I threw it away,” she said. (“There were needles around him,” is how the 911 dispatcher relayed the information to responders. “The way that he was laying is what scared me because he was laying face down.”
There were a half dozen people in the house at 1 Black Hawk Place (“six of us, I believe,” was how the woman described it to the dispatcher), where the incident unfolded. Within eight minutes Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies had arrived at the scene and were administering Narcan, the substance designed to restore normal breathing in patients experiencing an overdose, among other uses. Rando did not respond. “Thomas had no pulse, was not breathing and was unresponsive,” one of the deputies reported.
Flagler County Fire Rescue and Palm Coast Fire Department paramedics soon took over CPR and administered another dose of Narcan with no better results, and at 7:41 took Rando to AdventHealth Palm Coast. A crime scene was established at the house and turned over to sheriff’s detectives.
Thomas Francis Rando was pronounced dead at 8 a.m.
The evening of Nov. 17, 2017, Rando was driving a Ford F-150 pick-up, entering I-95 southbound from Palm Coast Parkway, when he lost control of the vehicle, which crossed all three southbound lanes and struck the guardrail, overturning the truck and killing Hannah, who had been a student at Bunnell Elementary School. Her mother, Nichole, 37 at the time, and Hannah’s older brother by one year were all in the vehicle and severely injured. At the time of the crash Rando had been cited three times in just the previous six months for driving without a license.
He was arrested shortly after the crash on drug charges, was found guilty on all four charges, two of them third-degree felonies, sentenced to two months at the local jail, which he had already served, six months of community control, or house arrest, followed by two years’ probation, which he violated. He was subsequently sentenced to six months in jail, and last booked out of the county jail last Sept. 20.