A judge on Monday rejected a motion to dismiss the felony charge against former “Bachelor” Chris Soules, who is accused of leaving the scene of a fatal accident in Iowa last month.
If he is convicted, he could go to prison for up to five years. He is scheduled to be arraigned on May 23.
Soules was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that rear-ended a tractor driven by one of his neighbors near Aurora, Iowa, on the night of April 24. Both vehicles landed in the ditch.
The tractor driver, 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher of Aurora, died.
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Soules called 911 from the scene, then left. Authorities arrested him later at his home in Arlington, about 10 miles north of Aurora.
In the 911 call, Soules could be heard breathing heavily and sounded emotional as he described the crash to the dispatcher.
“I rear-ended a guy on a tractor,” he told the dispatcher on the audio.
Soules’ legal team insists the “Bachelor” farmer did not flee the scene, pointing out that he immediately called the police.
“His attorneys are confident that once all the evidence is made public, it will show Soules acted reasonably and did everything in his power to provide aid to Mr. Mosher,” his lawyers have said in a statement.
A judge rejected a motion to dismiss the charge, writing that because trial information has already been filed the motion is “procedurally moot,” reported Fox 28 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In their motion to dismiss, Soules’ lawyers argued the criminal complaint against Soules was “factually incorrect,” according to the Des Moines Register.
They said Soules did not violate the state law about leaving the scene of a personal injury accident because he called 911 and identified himself.
“A recording of a 911 phone call placed by Mr. Soules provides real-time evidence that Mr. Soules unhesitatingly identified himself and his role in the accident to dispatch and tried his utmost to resuscitate Mr. Mosher,” the motion read.
“Mr. Soules described the location of the accident and communicated with dispatch for approximately 5 minutes and 45 seconds while help was en route. The evidence will further show that emergency responders arrived on the scene shortly after Mr. Soules concluded his 911 call. Mr. Soules remained on the scene with those emergency responders for several more minutes before returning to his home.”
Prosecutors called the attempt to dismiss the case “premature.”
“Defendant’s motion to dismiss recognizes the defendant was to immediately return to the scene of the accident or inform the law enforcement authorities where he could be located. Defendant did neither,” they wrote in a May 2 filing.
“Furthermore, the only permissible reasons for which Defendant could leave the scene of the accident in the first place was to seek necessary aid or report the accident to law enforcement authorities. Defendant did neither after fleeing the scene.”
At a weekly news briefing on Monday, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad urged motorists to be careful on the roads during the spring planting season and Iowa’s busy road construction month, The Des Moines Register reported.
Reporters asked Branstad whether he thought Soules was guilty and whether he brought up the topic of farm vehicle crashes because of the case.
“I am not going to pass judgment on any specific case,” Branstad said. “I really brought the issue up because it is spring planting season. I am a farm kid. I drove vehicles out on the roads between fields, and today farmers are farming more ground and oftentimes it is a significant distance from where they live, which means that vehicles are on the road.”