Suspect Charged in Hardee's Accident

September 7, 2006 -- Posted at 12:15 p.m. CDT

NEWPORT, AR -- 44-year-old Gary Nicholson, Jr. is being held at the Jackson County Detention Center in of his first court appearance.

Nicholson is being charged with two counts of manslaughter, four counts of 2nd degree battery, one count of battery in the 3rd degree, and one count of 2nd degree criminal mischief.

Nicholson was driving the vehicle that slammed into Hardee's on Tuesday night.  Two women, both retired school teachers, were killed in the accident.  Several others were injured, some severely.

The Newport Police Department first considered Nicholson guilty of a DUI, but after conducting an on-site breathalyzer they chose not to.

"He appeared to be impaired.  He made a comment after being brought in to the police department that gave us probable cause to go forward with a blood test," said Newport Police Chief Michael Scudder.

Scudder said that Nicholson refused the drug test and a warrant had to be obtained to conduct that test.  The results from that test are still pending.

This isn't Nicholson's first brush with the wrong side of the law, he was already in hot water for previous charges.

"We do know he was on probation for drug charges at the time of the accident," said Scudder.

The first court appearance by Nicholson is expected to take place on Friday.