JONESBORO — A man was held on a $25,000 cash bond after authorities say he fled from a rural accident in which a Paragould woman died Friday.
The Craighead County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area of Craighead 304 and Craighead 307 to a traffic accident reported by an OnStar vehicle safety system, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Darrell Couch, 40, of Jonesboro, was traveling southbound on Craighead 307 when he failed to stop at a stop sign, an Arkansas State Police preliminary crash summary read. Couch drove his 2005 Chevrolet Tahoe through the intersection and into a nearby ditch, it read.
Deputies found a female inside “a white SUV in a deep ditch.” ASP identified the victim as Kayla Tarlton, 35. Tarlton was pronounced dead at the scene, the affidavit states.
Investigators spoke to Couch’s mother, who said Couch called her for help. He was not on the scene with her, the affidavit read.
Couch’s mother transported him from her home to the sheriff’s office. He was booked into jail at 8:46 a.m. Friday, according to the online jail roster.
In an interview, he told investigators that he drank “a few beers earlier in the day,” the affidavit read. In route from the victim’s home on Arkansas 141, he said he swerved to miss a deer that ran into a ditch.
“Couch said that he panicked and left the scene without calling the police. Couch said that he called his mother to come get him,” the affidavit read. “He never checked on the female passenger.”
As law enforcement responded, Couch said he was walking away, calling his mother, who picked him up shortly after that, it states.
The suspect admitted to previously consuming marijuana and taking a hydrocodone pill from his mother after the accident for the pain he incurred. The results of Couch’s blood sample and the identity of the victim were not disclosed by the sheriff’s office.
District Court Judge Tommy Fowler found probable cause Friday to charge Couch with leaving the scene of an accident with death and driving while intoxicated. Fowler learned in court that prosecutors may pursue a negligent homicide charge in this case.