Christopher Harper, of Nashville, was driving north in the 5100 block of Highway 278 W, just north of Washington, around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, January 9 when, he said, he fell asleep and ran off of the highway. Harper’s GMC Sierra drifted across the oncoming lane and into the ditch where it hit a driveway and went airborne for about 30 feet. Once back on the ground, Harper’s truck continued across the yard, hitting a power pole that was laying on the ground, breaking it in two and sending the pieces across the yard. Harper’s truck came to a stop when it crashed into the southeast corner of the home of Janet Conway. The impact caused serious damage to the house and Harper’s truck. Harper’s truck also took out the pole which holds Conway’s electric meter.
Janet Conway said she was on the other end of the house when the crash happened. She said the impact startled her. Conway said she looked out of one of the front windows but didn’t see anything initially. It wasn’t until she went out of her front door that she saw the truck wedged into the corner of her house. Conway said she never saw the driver and immediately called 911.
The Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police and Pafford EMS all sent units to the scene.
Harper was already gone when the first deputy made it on scene. An initial search of the surrounding properties failed to turn up a driver. Pafford was cancelled since there was no driver on scene and Conway wasn’t injured.
Trooper Bussey arrived on scene and conducted her investigation with the assistance of the deputies before a search of the area was started. It was a short-lived search for law enforcement as the SWEPCO employee who was dispatched to the scene to make any necessary repairs to electric infrastructure spotted someone walking down the highway.
Trooper Bussey made contact with Christopher Harper about 1 mile west of Ozan, more than 5 miles from the scene of the crash. Harper said he had fallen asleep and then panicked when he crashed and just took off walking. Trooper Bussey cited Harper with driving on suspended license, careless and prohibited driving, failure to report a vehicle crash and leaving the scene of a crash. Harper was not arrested and was apparently uninjured in the crash.