'Sad deal all around': Chris Soules' Iowa hometown reacts to fatal crash
Chris Soules was a farmer in rural northeast Iowa before his sisters submitted an application for him to appear on ABC’s reality dating show “The Bachelorette,” rocketing the quiet Iowan to fame.
In the years since his 2014 TV debut, Soules has kept himself in the public eye by appearing on multiple reality shows as well as hosting local events and speaking at agriculture-related conventions.
For the most part, he seemed to side-step the problematic headlines other reality stars have been known to court.
But that changed Tuesday when Soules was charged in connection to a fatal crash between a pickup truck and a tractor Monday evening. Local authorities allege Soules was driving the pickup truck and left the scene after the crash.
The driver of the tractor, Kenneth E. Mosher, 66, of Aurora, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Like Soules, Mosher was a farmer, those who knew him said. He lived on his family farm east of Aurora and had been a resident of the Buchanan County town of fewer than 200 people for much of his life. He married his high school sweetheart, Nancy, and had two children, said his friend David Young.
Soules made his first court appearance Tuesday morning in Buchanan County. His mother posted Soules' $10,000 bail and he was released around noon Tuesday.
MORE DETAILS: Chris Soules released from jail following fatal crash
"The Bachelor" star Chris Soules has been accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash, according to the Buchanan County Jail. Listen to audio obtained by the Register during the incident Monday night.
A call to Soules' cellphone went directly to voicemail. The family declined to comment through Hannah Rodriguez, Soules’ former publicist and a friend who spoke with the family Tuesday.
“It’s a sad deal all the way around,” said Mary Jo Brown, Arlington’s city clerk. “It’s a tragic accident and I feel bad for the family that lost someone last night and also for Chris and his family.”
Mosher's neighbor LaVerne Lentz said the community was in a state of "shock." Mosher had been working in the fields just hours before the crash, Lentz said, and the pair even waved at each other as Mosher passed on his tractor Monday night.
"It caught us all by surprise," he said.
Arlington mayor Dan Handel echoed Lentz's sentiment: “It’s just very sad news because I knew the guy that got killed. He was a local farmer and a very good person. He was definitely someone who would be willing to help you with anything if you were in need.”
"It’s just pretty devastating to have this happen in our area, in our town.”
Soules before the cameras
Soules, 35, is the youngest child and only boy in a family of four. He was heavily involved during his tenure at Starmont High School, playing on the football team, running track and participating in Future Farmers of America.
In 2005, Soules was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, first offense, in Fayette County and received a one-year probation, according to court documents. He was discharged in January 2007.
In 2001, the year leading up to his 21st birthday, Soules was charged three times with possession of alcohol under age, once in Webster County and twice in Buchanan County. That year, he also pleaded guilty and paid a fine for an open container citation in Buchanan County.
In 2002, he received a citation for fighting and noise to which he pleaded guilty; a citation for unlawful use of a license, to which he pleaded guilty; and a citation for leaving the scene, which was amended down to defective brakes and resulted in a fine.
Before life in the limelight, Soules worked mainly on his family farm. After graduating from Iowa State University in 2004, he was a farm manager and real estate agent with Hertz Farm Management and then with Total Realty in DeWitt, according to previous Register reporting.
"Bachelor" star Chris Soules has been accused of leaving the scene of a deadly crash, according to the Buchanan County Jail.
Hollywood comes calling
Soules first rose to national prominence when he appeared as a potential suitor for Andi Dorfman on the tenth season of "The Bachelorette" in 2014. Coming in third, Soules was selected as Season 19's "The Bachelor", which aired in 2015. At the time, the show was averaging its most-watched season in four years, according to ABC.
Representatives for ABC declined to comment on the matter when reached Tuesday morning.
Soules chose Chicago-based fertility nurse Whitney Bischoff from 30 female contestants and proposed to her in one of the barns on the family’s property.
The couple stayed together through his tenure on "Dancing with the Stars," but broke off their engagement in May 2015, just a few weeks after their six-month anniversary.
Soules took one more shot at reality TV in September 2015, appearing in Season 7 of "Worst Chefs in America" on the Food Network. His competition included other former reality stars such as JWoww of "Jersey Shore" and Kendra Wilkinson, a Playboy playmate and one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends on "The Girls Next Door."
He was the third person eliminated from the show and hasn't held a steady TV gig since.
Soules back in Iowa
In July 2014, between filming "The Bachelorette" and "The Bachelor," the Register interviewed Soules at the corporate office of Summit Agricultural Group, the multinational agriculture and investment company helmed by Bruce Rastetter. At the time, Soules said he was helping run his family farm as well as working with Summit "managing other farms around the area."
"Chris worked with our team for several years in farm acquisition and farm management services," Eric Peterson, Summit's president, said in an emailed statement. "Once 'The Bachelor' began, he did not return to work at Summit Agricultural Group. We do not have any further comment out of respect for the investigative process that is underway."
Around September 2015, long after he'd danced his last dance on "Dancing with the Stars," Peoples Company, an Iowa-based farm and land management firm, hired Soules as a land investment specialist, the Register reported.
Soules' main directive was to "help broker deals with celebrities, athletes, musicians and business moguls who want to buy farms or recreational land in Iowa."
Reached Tuesday morning, Becky Rozenboom, executive director of People's Company, said Soules was “not technically an employee” but worked for the company “on a consultant basis when needed.”
Soules also worked in some capacity for America's Renewable Future, a political group that advocated to extend the Renewable Fuel Standard. The group's listed website is no longer running, but its Facebook page features prominent photos of Soules with messages encouraging Iowa caucus-goers to vote for candidates who support the RFS.
Soules’ Instagram also shows photos of him attending both the Democratic and Republican conventions to speak about ethanol. As recently as this month, Soules was making appearances all over Iowa and the Midwest for various nonprofit ventures or ag-related interests.
His last public appearance was at the ceremony honoring fellow Iowan Ashton Kutcher with the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award, an annual honor given by Drake University to “individuals who demonstrate good character as a role model.”
What's next for Soules and Arlington?
When he was on “The Bachelor,” townspeople said Soules had, for the most part, portrayed Arlington fairly well.
At the time, city clerk Brown said that Soules came across as a "complete gentleman."
As far as whether Brown still sees him that way, she said she is going to “reserve judgment.”
“Unfortunately, accidents happen in the spring and fall sometimes with tractors and trucks because there are more tractors on the road, so I am going to reserve judgment until I hear all the details about what happened,” Brown said. “All I know is that it has got to be devastating for him and his family and for the other family involved, too.”
“I also know this story is going to spread like wildfire around here and probably all over because of who he is,” she added.
“Sometimes fame isn’t your friend.”
Register reporters Kelly McGowan, Joel Aschbrenner and Grant Rodgers contributed to this report.