AURORA, Iowa – A former reality TV star has been arrested following a fatal crash that killed an Aurora man overnight in Buchanan County, and the Buchanan County Sheriff is saying alcohol is a factor.
Kenneth E. Mosher, 66, of Aurora, was driving a 2640 John Deere tractor when it was rear-ended by a Chevrolet pickup driven by Christopher Douglas Soules, 35, of Arlington, according to the Iowa State Patrol.
Soules, the star of the 19th season of ABC's "The Bachelor," was kept overnight in the Buchanan County Jail in Independence and bonded out Tuesday by his mother.
Soules is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, which is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison. He was arrested in Aurora early Tuesday, about five hours after the crash.
The two-vehicle crash happened about 8:20 p.m. -- shortly after sunset -- in the 1000 block of Slater Avenue north of Aurora and about a mile from Mosher’s home.
According to the Iowa State Patrol and the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Soules' 2008 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was headed south on the county road and collided with the rear of Mosher's tractor. The tractor rolled into the east ditch and the pickup went into the west ditch, according to records.
Soules was uninjured and left the scene of the accident before law enforcement arrived, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities said someone called 911 to report the crash, but they didn't release the identity of the caller or audio of the call. Investigators spoke to multiple witnesses and determined Soules caused the crash and left the scene, according to a complaint, which doesn't name the witnesses.
Mosher was taken by Oelwein Ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Oelwein, where he was pronounced dead.
Soules was found a short time later at his home in the 7500 block of B Avenue near Arlington in neighboring Fayette County, according to Buchanan County deputies. He was arrested and taken to jail.
Mosher was an Aurora native and was continuing the farming tradition he grew up with, said Mayor Dave Young. Young used to ride the school bus with Mosher when they were young and, as an adult, Mosher was a regular customer at the ag services business where Young works.
“It’s tough when you lose one of your main people in town. He did a lot in town. Everybody knew him,” Young said.
At the time of the crash, Mosher was likely hauling away rocks found in his fields, Young said.
“He probably was picking up rock. He farms a farm up north of Aurora on the blacktop three or four miles up from where the accident was. Somebody said they were doing some tillage up there yesterday,” Young said.
Mosher was living on the farmstead where he was raised. He had built a new house on the land sometime around 1991, and the old farmhouse was lifted and moved to another location west of Aurora, the mayor said.
Mosher has two grown sons, and one of them had been helping with the farm operation in recent years.
“His wife works right along with him in the field. Nancy, she’s quite a helper, too,” Young said.
He also was a military veteran and a member of the local American Legion hall. In his off time, Mosher enjoyed golf and played in Florida when he traveled there to visit his mother.
Soules appeared in court in Independence on Tuesday morning wearing a jail jumpsuit. Bond was set at $10,000 cash only, which was posted by Linda Soules, Chris Soules' mother. Out on bond, Chris Soules will have to be supervised by pretrial services staff.
He will be subject to electronic monitoring and will be forbidden from leaving Iowa without written consent of the court.
A preliminary hearing has been set for 1:30 p.m. May 2.
Alcohol was found at the scene, and investigators are trying to determine whose it was, said Sheriff Bill Wolgram.
Court records show Soules has had multiple driving and alcohol-related convictions in the past, including a conviction in connection with a November 2006 operating while intoxicated arrest in Fayette County.
In the 2005 case, Fayette County deputies found him asleep behind the wheel at the intersection of D Avenue and Highway 3 between Lamont and Arlington. His car was still running, and deputies noticed an odor of alcohol. He failed three field sobriety tests and blew a .200 -- more than twice the legal limit -- on a breath test, according to court records. He pleaded guilty a few months later and was given a $500 fine and 60 days in jail suspended to a year of probation.
Soules, a farmer from the Arlington area, also has appeared on reality television shows such as "The Bachelorette" and "Dancing with the Stars."
The crash comes as Gov. Terry Branstad and lawmakers have expressed alarm about a rising number of deaths on Iowa roadways caused by intoxicated and distracted drivers. Branstad last week signed laws allowing officers to pull over drivers for texting while driving, increasing the penalties for texting-related vehicular homicides, and creating a statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program for intoxicated drivers.