The survivor of a two-vehicle accident in August which claimed the lives of a Paris man and his two sons, was jailed on Friday, Sept. 21 and charged with three counts of negligent homicide.
Eric R. Thompson, 42, of Paris, is being held in the Logan County Detention Center on a $3 million bond. Bond was set during a hearing last Friday at the detention center by 15th Judicial District Circuit Judge Jerry Don Ramey.
Thompson was arrested at his Paris home by Logan County deputies after they learned he had been discharged last week from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. Thompson was sent to the hospital after the Aug. 22 wreck on Highway 309, north of Paris.
Logan County Chief Deputy Sheriff David Spicer said the arrest warrant was issued after the 15th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s office subpoenaed hospital records showing Thompson’s blood alcohol content after the wreck.
"The records from the hospital showed his blood alcohol content at the time of the wreck was .08 to .29," Spicer said. A driver with a BAC of .08 or greater can be charged with driving while intoxicated. Thompson’s blood was also sent to the Arkansas Crime Lab but a report has not been issued yet, Spicer said.
"That’s a pretty wide range," Spicer said, "but the Prosecuting Attorney thought that was enough probable cause to issue the warrant."
According to documents on file with the Circuit Clerk’s office, the arrest warrant was issued on Sept. 3.
In addition to negligent homicide, Thompson has been charged with driving on a suspended, cancelled or revoked license.
Thompson was arrested after deputies checked last Thursday with UAMS and found out he had been discharged from the hospital, Spicer said.
"We had asked the UAMS police to notify us when he was released from the hospital," Spicer said. "When we called Thursday to check his status, we found out he’d been discharged so we started looking for him. We went to his residence Friday and arrested him.
"We weren’t happy we weren’t notified but people make mistakes," Spicer said.
Spicer said Thompson is in a wheel chair, using a feeding tube and has to have bandages changed daily. He is in a cell alone, Spicer said.
District Court records show that Thompson was arrested in April and charged with drinking in public, resisting arrest and driving on a suspended license. Records show that he was arrested in May and charged with driving while intoxicated, driving on a suspended license and speeding.
On June 25, Thompson appeared in Municipal Court in Paris and pled guilty to all those charges. On the DWI charge, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail with 29 suspended and credit given for one day served, fined $625, ordered to attend a DWI school and complete a program offered by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He was fined $570 for driving on a suspended license, fined $121 for speeding, fined $185 for drinking in public and fined $425 for resisting arrest.
On Aug. 22, Thompson was driving a 1996 Dodge pick-up truck north on Highway 309 when he passed another vehicle and struck head on a 2006 Chevrolet driven by James D. Lee, 32, of Paris. Lee’s passengers were his son, James Dawsen Lee, eight, and his stepson, Caleb Campbell 12. Lee and his two sons were killed. The Chevrolet overturned and caught fire. The two children were ejected from the vehicle.
Lee and his two sons were pronounced dead at the scene and Thompson was taken first to Mercy Hospital in Paris and later airlifted to UAMS.
James D. Lee, James Dawsen Lee and Campbell were later buried after a funeral in Ozark.