Person of interest identified in fatal Sevier County hit-and-run

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE) -- District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn says the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Sevier County Sheriff's Office have identified a person of interest after a 13-month-old child was struck and killed in an apparent hit-and-run crash Wednesday morning.

Dunn's office the vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the incident has also been identified. No charges have been filed and no one is yet in custody. The name of the person of interest has not yet been released.

The crash happened in the 12000 block of Chapman Highway around 10 a.m.

Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey said earlier on Thursday they were following up on a credible tip. He and THP have been asking for the public's assistance in locating the vehicle involved in the incident. The vehicle is described as a red 2005-2008 four-door Pontiac Vibe.

The agency is offering a $5,000 reward for information that will lead to the location of the vehicle and an arrest.

"I'm asking my fellow East Tennesseans to help us locate this vehicle and driver, as we honor the life of this little baby," said Purkey. "Someone knows who this driver is. This driver needs to do the right thing and come forward today. Make no mistake about it, our State Troopers will prevail and locate this vehicle. They always do. Join us in this effort today, and let's do our work sooner rather than later."

Purkey says while the reward is an incentive it shouldn't be the biggest factor.

"This situation involves a child, that touches everyone's hearts. It doesn't matter if you are directly involved in the accident or a citizen watching the news media following the story. It strikes a particular chord. I do think a reward helps but it's not the most important part."

It is unclear at this time if the reward was a factor in identifying the suspect.

Purkey also says THP will be looking into how the child was able to get into the roadway in the first place.

If anyone has any information they are strongly encouraged to call the THP Knoxville District Dispatch Center at 865-544-3380 and ask for Sgt. Steve Manning.


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