In Georgia, a hit-and-run charge can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the accident only causes property damages or minor injuries, the driver may face only misdemeanor hit-and-run charges. If the accident involved serious injuries or a fatality, the driver may face felony charges. In addition to the felony hit-and-run charge, if someone was killed, the driver may face a charge of vehicular homicide in the first-degree, which is another felony. The felony hit-and-run charges alone could result in a term of one to five years in prison. This may be added to the prison term for any additional charges.
The Atlanta Journal & Constitution reports that a state lawmaker and police chief failed to call 911 following a fatal hit-and-run accident.
The accident, which occurred at about 8:25 P.M. on September 11, 2019, is being investigated by the Georgia State Patrol and the Polk County District Attorney’s office.
Ralph Dover III was driving down Main Street in Cedartown when he hit the victim, who was riding a bicycle. The impact knocked the victim into a ditch. Instead of stopping, Dover drove to a nearby gas station and called his friend, Representative Trey Kelley. Kelley then called the Cedartown police chief. None of the men called 911.
The SUV had evidence of colliding with the victim’s bike. The front of the SUV was dented in and there was paint transfer from the red bicycle. Dover drove for about a mile to a gas station.
Kelley met Dover at the gas station, and they went back to the scene of the accident. They did not see the victim lying in a nearby ditch. At some point, Kelley saw a bicycle on the side of the road and called Police Chief Jaime Newsome. Kelley mentioned the bicycle to Newsome, who did not call 911. Instead, he sent one of his deputies to the crash site.
The deputy found the victim, who was still breathing. He called for an ambulance at about 9:28 P.M., more than an hour after the accident. The victim succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.
The Polk County Coroner ruled the death a homicide by vehicle. He said that the outcome may have been different if someone had called 911 much earlier.
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