SCHP ID’s Driver Suspected in Fatal Hit-and-Run

RIDGEWAY – The S.C. Highway Patrol (SCHP) this week released the name of the driver suspected in a Dec. 24 hit-and-run accident that claimed the life of 55-year-old Nilesh Shantilal Desai at the Sharpe Shoppe Exxon station on Highway 34 and I-77 near Ridgeway.

According to the SCHP, Kenneth Robinson, 57, of Lugoff, was identified by employees at the Sharpe Shoppe as he returned to the station on Dec. 29 to purchase fuel for his 2003 International tractor-trailer. Employees took down a vehicle description and tag number as Robinson was leaving the station, and a short time later a Fairfield County Sheriff’s deputy pulled the rig over on Highway 34 at a gas station near the Kershaw County line, detaining Robinson until a Highway Patrolman could arrive.

Fairfield County Coroner Barkley Ramsey told The Voice last week that Desai, formerly of Appaloosa Ridge Road in Richburg, but who most recently lived at the Ramada Inn that he owned next door to the Sharpe Shoppe, was taking his routine daily walk from his motel to the Exxon station 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.

A heavy downpour on the morning of the incident made visibility poor, and Ramsey said the 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.

The SCHP said the incident remains under investigation and any potential charges against Robinson, which the SCHP said would, if filed, come from the Fairfield County Solicitor’s Office, were pending the outcome of that investigation.