Suspect caught

Authorities locate vehicle, make arrest in fatal hit-and-run in Clinton

  • Dannon Ray Cole, 50, of Knoxville is shown in custody in a police vehicle in this photo released by the Clinton Police Department. Cole was arrested in the hit-and-run death of Clinton resident Jordan Pitts, who died after being struck by a GMC pickup truck on Clinch Avenue on Nov. 20. - Clinton Police Department

  • Dannon Ray Cole - Clinton Police Department

  • JORDAN PITTS - Clinton Police Department

Clinton Police have arrested Dannon Ray Cole, 50, of Knoxville and are holding him in lieu of $500,000 bail in the Nov. 20 hit-and-run death of a Clinton man on Clinch Avenue.

Police believe Cole was driving a GMC pickup truck that struck and killed Jordan Pitts, 39, as he rode his motorized bicycle to work early on Nov. 20, and that Cole left the scene without stopping

As a result of identifying the vehicle, police said last week that they were seeking Cole as a “person of interest” in the hit-and-run fatality.

The police department reported on its Facebook page Tuesday that Cole had been arrested in Knoxville by Clinton police officers and the U.S. Marshals Service, and was being held on “aggravated vehicular homicide charges in connection with the hit and run.”

“Cole was booked into the Anderson County Detention Facility on a $500,000 bond,” the police post said.

Pitts reportedly was on his way to work at the Hardee’s restaurant in South Clinton on his bike when he was hit about 3:35 a.m. Pitts family members reported that the vehicle that struck Pitts dragged him about 300 feet down the highway before leaving the scene.

Pitts was taken to a Knoxville hospital, where he died later in the day.

He was a “valuable employee” who had been working at Hardee’s for more than a year, said Hardee’s Manager Angela Matchett, who was Pitts’ supervisor.

“His one-year anniversary was Nov. 18,” Matchett said. “He did everything for us. He was our right-hand man, grill cook, he did cleanup, he cooked on the line, made the food, and would unload our weekly truck.

“He was an all-around nice man, and he’s going to be severely missed.”

Matchett said Pitts “drove that motorized bike to work every day,” but recently it had been down for repairs, and he had walked to work every day from his East Wolf Valley Road home.

“When his bike was down, he had a 45-minute walk to work,” she said.

Jordan Pitts was preceded in death by his grandparents, Clyde and Wanda Ezell; a brother; and several other family members.

He is survived by brother, Adrian Pitts; best friend, Casey Hall; cousins, Kim Cantrell; special cousins, Chase, Blake, and Kendra Morris; special friends, Michelle and Scott Stockstill, and Donny; his co-workers at Hardees in South Clinton.

The family will receive friends from noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at Holley-Gamble Funeral Home, with a celebration of life service to follow.