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Husband of Costco carjacking victim speaks out about crime in NOLA

While the memory is fuzzy for Kelleye, witnesses say someone snuck into her driver’s seat and took off. She was dragged 30 to 40 feet through the lot.

NEW ORLEANS — The SUV stolen during a violent carjacking Tuesday at COSTCO is back in the Rhein family’s driveway.

But the healing, for Kelleye Rhein and her family, has just begun.

“She had a lot of wounds to her head, a fracture to her neck, she had fractures in her hand, basically all down one side of her body all down her side. It was a lot of abrasions and she was super confused,” said Kelleye’s husband, Jason Rhein.

Kelleye, a mother and real estate agent, was released from the hospital Wednesday, just one day after she was carjacked and dragged by her own car while pumping gas at Costco.

While the memory is fuzzy for Kelleye, witnesses say someone snuck into her driver’s seat and took off. She was dragged 30 to 40 feet through the lot.

A doctor in line for gas rushed to her aid, even covering her as it began to rain, and waited for twenty minutes with her until EMS arrived.

Kelleye was taken to the hospital with many injuries.

She is just getting her short-term memory back, according to her husband, and she needed brain scans to ensure she wasn’t in need of neurosurgery.

The retelling is emotional for Jason.

“It’s my wife, you know… this is the love of my life. We’ve been together more than 12 years,” said Rhein. “I’m just glad she’s alive.”

But the Rheins say they can’t continue to accept that doing everyday tasks in New Orleans increasingly comes with the risk of death or injury.

According to the Metro Crime Commission, carjackings in New Orleans have increased 1100% since this time in 2019.

The Rheins say they’re out of patience for the out-of-control crime in the city they love.

“When it’s in broad daylight at 3 p.m. in a Costco Gas lot that’s supposed to be secure, with hundreds of people around, you know, you realize that this could have happened to anyone,” said Jason Rhein.

As Kelleye recovers, even though the Rheins have built two businesses in New Orleans over two decades of living in the city, they’re considering a move.

“Every day It feels like it’s getting worse and there’s no end in sight,” said Jason Rhein.  I know it’s not an easy solution for somebody to just put a band-aid on it… I’m not naïve to that… but something’s gotta give.”

Investigators were able to use GPS to find the Rhein's car ditched on a road several hours after the carjacking. Jason Rhein says all that was stolen was cash and some small things from Kelleye’s purse.

RELATED: How to safely pump gas as carjackings threaten city

RELATED: Dr. says she's leaving New Orleans after helping badly injured carjacking victim at Costco

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