JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A Craighead County man who reportedly left a woman for dead inside a car after a crash appeared in court Friday in front of a judge.
Darrell Couch, 40, of Jonesboro was arrested around 8:45 a.m. Friday on suspicion of DWI-1st offense and leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death.
The woman, Kayla Nanney Tarlton, 35, of Paragould died, according to a preliminary fatality report from the Arkansas State Police.
Craighead County authorities said in a probable cause affidavit that deputies got a call Friday about a crash near CR 304 and CR 307.
The deputies found a white SUV in a deep ditch, with the woman inside.
“Medical personnel arrived shortly after deputies and also failed to find a pulse. The female was pronounced deceased shortly after this,” the affidavit noted.
According to the affidavit, deputies could not find Couch but spoke to a family member of his.
The family member identified Couch as the driver and said Couch had called her, asking for help.
“Darrell had called and told her that he had been in an accident and he needed her help,” the affidavit noted.
The family member took Couch to the sheriff’s office, where he was later interviewed.
Couch was interviewed and asked about the crash, deputies said.
“Couch told this investigator that he had a few beers earlier in the day and that he had picked the female up at a house on Highway 141 prior to the accident. Couch stated that a deer ran out in front of him as he was turning onto CR 304 from CR 307,” the affidavit noted. “Couch said that he swerved to miss the deer and ran in the ditch. Couch said that he panicked and left the scene without calling the police.”
Couch said he called the family member to pick him up.
“Couch said he never checked on the female passenger. Couch told the investigator that he did see the police arriving at the accident scene as he was walking away and calling (the family member),” the affidavit noted.
Couch also admitted driving the vehicle and that he may have had marijuana in his blood work but that he had not been smoking marijuana at the time or before the crash; and may have had hydrocodone in his system due to being hurt in the crash.
A $25,000 cash only bond was set Friday for Couch, who will be arraigned Dec. 22 in circuit court.
The case is still under investigation and Couch could face an additional charge of negligent homicide in connection with the crash, investigators said in court Friday.