Hotel Owner Killed in Hit-and-Run

Suspected Driver Located

RIDGEWAY – A 55-year-old man was killed early Christmas Eve morning in a hit-and-run incident near Ridgeway. A suspect in the incident was apprehended Monday evening, sources told The Voice, although his identity was not available at press time.

According to Fairfield County Coroner Barkley Ramsey, Nilesh Shantilal Desai, formerly of Appaloosa Ridge Road in Richburg but who most recently lived at the Ramada Inn which he owned on Highway 34 and I-77, was taking his routine daily walk from the Ramada Inn to the Sharpe Shoppe Exxon station nearby just after 6 a.m. on Dec. 24. Ramsey said Desai entered the Sharpe Shoppe, made a purchase and was walking back to the motel, but never made it home. At approximately 6:30 a.m., Ramsey said, a cashier at the Sharpe Shoppe found Desai’s body on the ground near the diesel pumps behind the station. Desai was pronounced dead at the scene from trauma inflicted by a moving vehicle.

The weather conditions were poor, with a heavy downpour pelting the area and Ramsey said a tractor trailer may have struck Desai without ever seeing him or even realizing he had hit him. Ramsey said that it is also possible that Desai slipped and fell on the wet surface and was on the ground when struck by the rig.

Video surveillance of the back of the station is unclear, Ramsey said, also because of the weather. The video does show a tractor trailer pulling up to the pumps just before the incident, but the markings on the truck were obscured by the rains. The driver pre-paid for his fuel with cash, Ramsey said, eliminating the possibility of tracing his identity electronically.

The driver suspected in the incident returned to the Sharpe Shoppe Monday evening, sources said, and employees there were able to take down a vehicle description and tag number as the driver departed the station. A Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputy pulled the driver over on Highway 34 at a gas station near the Kershaw County line, detaining the driver until a S.C. Highway Patrolman could arrive. The Highway Patrol continues to have the incident under investigation, and it was not known at press time whether or not charges would be filed against the driver.