Sweetwater man charged with leaving fatal crash scene thought he’d hit a deer

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Sweetwater man charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash told investigators he thought he had struck a deer, according to a Monroe County Sheriff’s Office warrant.

Walter Kevin Elliott, 39, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death on May 17.

Monroe County deputies had been investigating the death of a man, later identified as Billy Ratledge, who was found along Sweetwater Vonore Road on March 20. Ratledge’s body showed signs of serious traumatic injuries consistent with being struck by a motor vehicle, including several broken bones and internal injuries.

Deputies made contact with Elliott on March 22 at his home on Forkners Chapel Road after Sweetwater Police saw a white Chevrolet Malibu that showed signs of damage parked in the driveway.

The warrant states the vehicle’s windshield was caved in far enough to touch the front passenger seat and had pieces missing from the car’s grill which appeared to match evidence at the scene of the crash.

Hair and glass were recovered from the vehicle for DNA testing when investigators processed the vehicle at the Monroe County Justice Center.

Elliott told investigators that he was on his way to work when he thought he had hit a deer around 7:45 a.m. on March 13. He also stated he went back to the scene ‘3 or 4 times’ to see what he had had hit but didn’t find anything. Elliott described the weather conditions that day as, “misting rain but daylight.”

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