Bassist Robert Todd Harrell of the rock band 3 Doors Down has been charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication after an interstate crash claimed the life of another motorist in the Nashville area, police said.
The 41-year-old musician remained jailed early Sunday in connection with the fatal accident late Friday night on Interstate 40 that left 47-year-old Paul Howard Shoulders Jr. dead, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department said.
A police statement said a preliminary investigation showed that Harrell was driving west at a high rate of speed in the Nashville suburb of Hermitage when his car clipped a pickup truck driven by Shoulders. Police said the pickup then went out of control, struck a guardrail, went down an embankment and overturned. Shoulders was ejected.
Authorities said Harrell’s car hit a retaining wall and stopped about a quarter mile away.
Police said Harrell showed signs of impairment when he underwent field sobriety tasks, adding in their statement that “he acknowledged consuming hard cider and taking prescription Lortab” and Xanax.
Shoulders, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at a Nashville hospital, authorities added. Harrell escaped relatively unscathed with only minor injuries
The police statement said Harrell, of Mt. Juliet, also was charged with bringing controlled substances into the jail. Authorities said sheriff’s deputies had discovered a plastic bag concealed in his sock that contained eight Xanax pills, 24 Oxycodone pills and four Oxymorphone pills during a search at the booking room.
Early Sunday, a jail official contacted by The Associated Press said Harrell remained in custody in lieu of $100,000 bond. The official, who declined to be identified by name, said Harrell was not available and jail records didn’t indicate whether he had an attorney.
The official said Harrell faces a court appearance Thursday morning.
According to Tennessee law*, vehicular homicide due to the driver’s intoxication is classified as a Class B felony (as opposed to Class C, which would be the charge if not intoxicated) in an obvious attempt to legislate harsher penalties for drunk drivers. This bump results in a significant increase in sentencing exposure for the offender who will be looking at a thirty year maximum sentence if charged with a Class B felony. For a standard range one offender, this increase in classification finds the offender facing eight to twelve years for a Class B felony, as opposed to three to six years for a Class C felony. Other factors are taken into account for sentencing as well, such as the characteristics of the offender. Most notably, the court will probably look to see how egregious the offender’s conduct was and if the individual has a history of similar behavior.
This is eerily similiar to a July 2012 incident in Mississippi, which found Harrell arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated after a wreck involving another vehicle, with the exception of course being that the driver struck by Harrell was lucky to have only sustained minor injuries.
3 Doors Down had just announced a string of dates for a third leg of their upcoming North American co-headlining tour with Daughtry, along with special guest Halestorm, with prior dates in Europe, UK and most of the huge summer festivals.
Additionally, a special one-time only acoustic evening at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, TN is scheduled for May 4.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Paul Howard Shoulders, Jr. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends at this difficult time,” said a statement released on the 3 Doors Down website.
~ Information contained in this article was a combination of AP, TN Law websites, internet research of reliable news sources and original content.
* T.C.A. 39-13-212 describes is homicide caused by the operation of some sort of vehicle (automobile, airplane, motorboat, or any other motor vehicle) as the proximate cause of one of three types of conduct:
(a) Vehicular homicide is the reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other vehicle, as the proximate result of:
(1) conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person;
(2) the driver’s intoxication, as set forth in §55-10-401. For the purposes of this section, intoxication includes alcohol intoxication as defined by §55-10-408, drug intoxication, or both; or
(3) As the proximate result of conduct constituting the offense of drag racing as prohibited by Title 55, chapter 10, part 5.