Tennessee State Trooper killed in hit and run accident at Mississippi lake; charges may be filed

Published 2:45 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Panola County Sheriff’s Office investigators have confirmed that a cyclist struck and killed on the main levee of Sardis Lake at the John Kyle State Park Thursday evening was an off-duty officer of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Investigator Capt. Justin Maples said the deceased’s identity would not be released until authorities have met with family members. They were informed of their relative’s death last night.

Panola authorities have taken a person of interest into custody and will question him today as the investigation proceeds. The body of the man killed has been sent for an autopsy and forensic examination.

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Maples said he expects charges to be filed later Friday if the person of interest is the person involved in the hit-and-run incident. Other state agencies have been called in to assist the investigation, including a specialized team in crash scene reconstruction.

Panola dispatchers received the initial report at 6:03 p.m. Thursday when four South Carolina game wardens found the deceased and his bicycle on the levee that separates the upper and lower lakes at Sardis. Those officers are in Panola County as part of a youth clay shooting competition currently underway at McIvor Shooting Facility and happened upon the body.

Because of their law enforcement training, the game wardens were able to give local investigators information about a vehicle they observed parked not far from the scene, including photos they took that captured the car’s license plate number. From that information, the Sheriff’s Office was able to locate the vehicle and detain the person of interest.

Maples said the fierce wind and rainstorm that swept through Panola County about that time was a hinderance in the initial efforts to process the scene, later labeled as a crime scene as authorities learned more about the incident.