A Saturday morning hit and run that took place just outside Nevada has claimed the life of an Arkansas man who was visiting the area to attend a funeral, according to the Vernon County Sheriff Ron Peckman.
The death of James E. Besaw, 22, of Rogers, Ark., is still under investigation by the Vernon County Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Major Crash Investigation Unit, according to Peckman.
Several Vernon County deputies and state troopers are trying to find out exactly what happened when Besaw was killed during the hit and run incident that occurred as Besaw walked on County Road 1400 northwest of Nevada on Saturday. An online incident report gives a time of 3:50 a.m.; but a press release from the Patrol said it was "between the hours of 1:15 a.m. and 4 a.m." and that "the Vernon County Coroner's Office pronounced Besaw dead at the scene."
Peckman said "it's a terrible thing," but there is not a lot of information yet. He also said there is no evidence of a homicide -- other than a vehicular homicide. "It looks like he was run over," Peckman said.
Authorities believe Besaw was walking to his parent's house on Minie Ball Road when the incident occurred. Authorities also believe they know "what kind of vehicle" was involved, said Peckman. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol public information officer for Troop D, Sergeant Mike Watson, "Troopers feel like the driver was traveling north on 1400 Road when Besaw was struck."
Watson said it is a "criminal investigation -- a felony leaving the scene of an accident."
Peckman said investigators already have conducted several interviews and know that the young man had been at several parties during the hours leading up to his death. Authorities are still trying to "track some people down and talk to them," Peckman said and he hoped they could get an autopsy completed Monday.
The Patrol is asking for the public's assistance in identifying the driver and vehicle involved in this crash.
Anyone with information should call the Patrol's Troop D Headquarters at (417) 895-6868 or the Vernon County Sheriff's Office at (417) 283-4400.