Lawsuit accuses Georgia Rep. Kelley of ‘cover up’ in bicyclist death

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Georgia state Rep. Trey Kelley is being sued in federal court over his failure to call 911 after his friend hit a bicyclist who later died.

The wrongful death suit, filed last week by the father of the victim, alleges that Kelley used his political office and influence to protect his friend rather than try to find and help the bicyclist.

An attorney for Kelley, a Republican from Cedartown who previously served as House majority whip, said Kelley called the local police chief and did nothing wrong.

The lawsuit stems from the death of Eric Keais, who died after a hit-and-run in Polk County two years ago. The driver, Ralph Dover III, called Kelley rather than calling 911.

Kelley went to the scene and saw the crumpled red bicycle but didn’t look for the victim or call 911, according to the lawsuit. Cedartown Police Chief James Newsome dispatched an officer, who found Keais still alive on the side of the road. An ambulance arrived within minutes, but Keais later died.

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

Kelley’s attorney, Lester Tate, said his client didn’t violate any laws when he responded to Dover’s call.

“Georgia does have a hit-and-run statute that imposes a duty on the driver, but for someone like Trey who arrived on a scene after the accident occurred, he had no duty to do other than what he did,” Tate said.

Kelley has said he didn’t initially know a person had been injured and he fully cooperated with law enforcement.

The lawsuit was filed by Manfred Keais against Kelley, Dover, Newsome, the Cedartown Police Department and the city of Cedartown.

Kelley was indicted in December by a Polk County grand jury on a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct. A motion to quash the indictment is pending in superior court.