As someone who cycles in Georgia regularly, my biggest fear is that I’ll be hit by a car while out biking. My next fear is that the culprit will drive away as I lay dying in a ditch. This was exactly the scene that played out in 2019 when Eric Keais, 38, was fatally hit by Ralph “Ryan” Dover III in Polk County, Georgia on Sept. 11. The most egregious part is that Dover didn’t call 911 after striking Keais; instead, he called his high-powered Republican friend, State Rep. Trey Kelley, to help save his guilty ass. Kelley, in turn, called a friend in power, and so it goes.
Looks like here in the Peach State friends help friends—even in the case of a fatal hit-and-run.
Dover, who left the scene of the accident, was indicted by the grand jury on charges of hit-and-run and reckless conduct. And Kelly was indicted on one misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct. Kelley is now being sued in federal court by Keais’ father for wrongful death. The case is alleging Kelley tried to use his political power for a friend instead of doing the right thing and saving a man’s life.
Kelley’s attorney, Lester Tate, alleged his client, the former House Republican whip, did nothing wrong.
“Georgia does have a hit-and-run statute that imposes a duty on the driver, but for someone like Trey who arrived on a scene after the accident occurred, he had no duty to do other than what he did,” Tate said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to court documents, Kelley didn’t just arrive on the scene, check it out, and call 911. He called his own high-powered buddy, Cedartown Police Chief James Newsome, 46 minutes after the accident. Newsome then called a sergeant, but not 911. When the sergeant arrived, Keais was found still alive, lying bloodied in a ditch. The sergeant called an ambulance, but Keais died later at the hospital.
“Defendants Dover, Kelley, and Newsome conspired to cover up the seriousness of the hit-and-run by manipulating the police investigation,” according to the lawsuit. “These defendants acted in concert to put Mr. Keais’ life in further jeopardy by recklessly and intentionally delaying and depriving him of lifesaving medical treatment.”
Here Kelley explains the events in a statement around the time of his indictment:
“That night I received a call from a Polk County citizen who I had seen earlier in the night at the Polk County Fair. This individual worked at a local supermarket, is well-liked, and is known to have limited mental capacity. He was agitated and upset because he had been involved in an accident and thought he may have hit an animal with his car. After trying unsuccessfully to calm him down and find out what he may have hit, I still had no idea what had happened. At that time, I felt the right thing to do was to go to his location to try to find out what had happened. So, I put my boots back on and got in my truck. After arriving and driving up and down the road, I saw nothing that indicated a life or death situation, but when I saw a bike located in the ditch off the right side of the roadway, I felt the right thing to do was to call the police and that is what I did. At that time, I still did not know another human being was involved. I fully cooperated with law enforcement at the scene and in the ongoing investigation as a witness and will continue to do so.”
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