Chris Soules reportedly may face manslaughter charge if cell phone was used at time of fatal accident
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/27/2017
Chris Soules could reportedly face a vehicular manslaughter charge if authorities determine he was using his cell phone at the time of the fatal accident.
According to law enforcement sources involved with the investigation, authorities seized Soules' phone in order to determine if he was a distracted driver, TMZ reported, when his pickup truck rear-ended a farm tractor in the early evening on Monday, sending the tractor and its driver, 66-year-old Kenneth E. Mosher -- who later died at the hospital -- into a ditch on the side of the road.
Police will reportedly be checking whether the Season 19 The Bachelor star was looking at text messages, photos, social media posts, and/or his call log on his phone while driving.
If proof is found Soules was using his phone at the time of the crash, sources told the website he could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Soules, a 35-year-old farmer from Arlington, IA, reportedly enjoyed taking photos of sunsets as he drove down country roads and regularly shared them on social media.
The reality TV star deleted his Instagram shortly after being released from the Buchanan County Jail on Tuesday when his mother Linda Soules posted his $10,000 bond, The Des Moines Register reported. Soules eventually deleted his Twitter account as well.
Soules was booked on a felony charge of leaving the scene of a deadly accident on Monday night, which could carry a five-year prison sentence if he's convicted.
Law enforcement sources told TMZ that Soules will likely be prosecuted but not convicted, although his celebrity status will not help him in this case.
One source told TMZ, "Iowa juries that understand rural life are not going to convict a guy who tries helping the victim before leaving."
However, the sources believe the incident will end up in civil court and Soules will settle by paying the victim's family a substantial amount of money.
While initial reports may have led people to believe Soules fled immediately after hitting the John Deere tractor, TMZ obtained 911 audio of Soules calling the police and attempting to help Mosher before taking off.
In the emergency phone call, the former The Bachelor star was breathing heavily while speaking to a dispatcher, and he sounded like he was possibly crying. Soules apparently checked the victim's pulse and asked a person at the scene to administer CPR.
Authorities say Soules' pickup truck was damaged and he left the scene of the crash with another driver -- who could also face charges -- in a different truck before emergency responders arrived, according to the Associated Press.
TMZ's law enforcement sources say skid marks show Soules was hitting the brakes before he slammed into the tractor and he was probably not driving at an excessive speed.
Open containers of beer, however, were found in Soules' pickup truck that was towed from the scene. It remains unclear whether Soules was intoxicated while driving, but he did not sound impaired during his 911 call.
Assistant Buchanan County Attorney Jenalee Zaputil had made no mention of Soules' 911 call during his initial arraignment hearing on Tuesday morning and stated Soules -- who was arrested at his house several hours after the accident because he refused to come outside and police were forced to obtain a search warrant -- had not contacted authorities about the incident.
"At no point did Mr. Soules come out of the house or cooperate with law enforcement... at any point, in trying to get in contact with them about regarding this individual and this fatality accident," Zaputil told the judge at the hearing.