Motorist who called Georgia lawmaker instead of 911 after fatally hitting cyclist found guilty


CEDARTOWN, Ga. (AP) — A driver accused of hitting a bicyclist and leaving him to die in a ditch in northwestern Georgia has been found guilty, local media reported.

Ralph “Ryan” Dover III was convicted Tuesday on charges of reckless conduct and a hit-and-run resulting in serious injury or death for the Sept. 11, 2019 accident that left Eric Keais, 38, dead in Cedartown, WSB-TV reported. Keais died of his injuries more than an hour after the collision, police said.

Sentencing is set for August.

Officials have said Dover hit Keais while driving his SUV in Cedartown. Instead of calling 911, Dover drove elsewhere and called state Rep. Trey Kelley, who local media has reported was a friend of Dover's. Kelley, in turn, called Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome at home, according to authorities. An officer was sent to the area, unaware that someone may have been injured, and eventually found Keais lying in a ditch, gravely wounded. Keais died from his injuries soon afterward.

Kelley told police that night he wasn’t sure whether Dover hit a person or a deer.

The state lawmaker has represented House District 16 since 2012, covering much of Bartow, Haralson, and Polk counties. He was indicted on misdemeanor charges in the case, but the charges were dropped.

Keais' father, Manfred Keais, filed a federal wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit against Dover, Kelly and Newsome, alleging they caused his son's death by not reporting it.

“Defendants Dover, Kelley and Newsome conspired to cover up the seriousness of the hit-and-run by manipulating the police investigation,” the lawsuit states. “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.”

Manfred Keais also sued the city of Cedartown and its police department. He is demanding monetary damages for pain and suffering, medical and funeral expenses, and compensatory and punitive damages.

The status of the lawsuit was not immediately available.