A local woman was arrested on multiple counts on Wednesday night after she allegedly hit and injured a cyclist with her vehicle while driving drunk and on the phone, then fled the scene.
Jennifer Dean Tilford, 49, who lists an address on Ledgerwood Road, was arrested shortly before 11:30 p.m. and charged with second-degree assault, punishable by 10 years in prison, and leaving the scene of an accident. involving bodily harm, punishable by up to six years, and counts of drunk driving, first offense, possession of a controlled substance, marijuana and driving with a suspended license.
Tilford, who lists no criminal history, was also cited for using a wireless phone for interactive communication while driving, first offense, refusing to submit to a chemical test, driving an unsafe vehicle, lack of insurance liability and reckless and prohibited conduct.
She was later released on $8,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Garland County District Court Aug. 4.
According to the probable cause affidavit, shortly after 11 p.m. Hot Springs Police Constable Jason Greene saw a white 2011 BMW sedan driving south on the 500 block of Higdon Ferry Road and noted that it had a “badly broken” windshield, making it unsafe to operate. As he followed her, he noted that the driver was “unable to maintain a lane” and the car “smoked heavily” from underneath.
He stopped the car at the intersection of Higdon Ferry and McGowan Street and made contact with the driver, identified as Tilford, who was ‘hysterical’ and spontaneously said she ‘could have hit someone’, according to the affidavit.
Greene noted that the interior of the car smelled strongly of intoxicants and saw an empty cup on the floor that was wet with an unknown liquid.
Meanwhile, other officers were on their way to an accident scene in the 2300 block of Central Avenue where it was reported that a cyclist had been hit by a vehicle. Witnesses at the scene described the vehicle as a white BMW that drove away.
The cyclist was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for minor injuries and later released, Officer First Class Omar Cervantes, the department’s public information officer, told The Sentinel-Record on Thursday.
While checking the BMW, Greene reportedly found a cell phone and a single sock “embedded in the exterior windshield” as well as “shoe scuff marks” on the car’s hood.
Tilford was detained, and Greene noted that she had bloodshot, watery eyes and the smell of intoxicants on her breath and person. She consented to three field sobriety tests and reportedly failed all three. She then consented to the portable breathalyzer which reportedly registered her blood alcohol level at 0.147%, nearly double the legal limit.
She was transported to the Garland County Detention Center where she submitted to a second breath test which reportedly registered her blood alcohol level at 0.143%. She reportedly refused to submit to a urine test.
When asked after reading her rights, Tilford reportedly said she was on the phone at the time of the crash and was “not sure what she hit”.
Before his vehicle was towed, other officers reportedly found a metal pipe with suspected marijuana inside and a green container with a second pipe and 0.3 grams of marijuana. Tilford allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana around noon that day.