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Virginia man arrested after hit-and-run boating incident on Cherokee Lake in Hawkins

STAFF REPORT • Jun 3, 2019 at 5:07 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The operator of a boat involved in a two-vessel collision on Cherokee Lake on Saturday was arrested and charged with reckless operation of a vessel and failure to render aid after reportedly fleeing the accident scene.

Saturday evening shortly after 6 p.m., a pontoon boat being operated by Jaime K. Ratliff, 40, of Abingdon, reportedly struck another pontoon boat in the side being operated by Johnny Kilgore and occupied by his wife, Thelma Kilgore, both of Kingsport.

According to TWRA Wildlife Officer Chris Seay, the Kilgore vessel was traveling toward the main channel of Cherokee Lake from Lakeside Campground when the accident occurred.

Seay stated in his report that after the collision Ratliff failed to stop and continued operating his vessel until beaching it approximately one mile northeast of the accident scene.

Ratliff then walked back to his camper at Lawson’s Campground, where TWRA officers arrested him a few hours later.

Ratliff appeared before Hawkins County Sessions Judge Todd Ross on Monday, entering guilty pleas to both charges. He was ordered to pay a $50 fine plus court costs for the reckless operation charge and a $10 fine plus court costs for the failure to render aid charge.

Ross also put Ratliff on 11 months and 29 days probation and ordered him to pay restitution for damages to Kilgore’s vessel.

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