Police: Suspect In I-49 Deadly Crash Abandoned Vehicle, Had Friend Attempt To Cover For Him

LOWELL (KFSM) — The man who was arrested in the death of a Bentonville man on Interstate 49 abandoned his vehicle at the scene, fled to a nearby truck stop and had a friend attempt to cover for him, according to new details from the Arkansas State Police.

Randy Perea, was arrested Wednesday (Aug. 21) after a fatal crash in which Ricky Schwellinger, 46, of Bentonville was killed. The accident happened on the southbound side of I-49 just north of the Lowell exit.

Ricky Schwellinger

According to the arrest affidavit, Schwellinger was trying to change a flat tire on his vehicle when another vehicle — a 2015 Dodge pickup — left the roadway and struck him. He later died of his injuries.

Benton County deputies advised the State Police that the suspect vehicle was nearby and abandoned. The vehicle had blood splatter and significant damage on the passenger side headlight and to both wheels on that side. The driver had fled on foot, the affidavit said.

Officers obtained a photo and registration information for the vehicle's owner, which was Randy Perea. They checked the area of the Workman's Travel Center nearby and found a man matching the photo trying to leave the store with a woman.

Officers stopped the couple, and the man said he was Perea. Deputies said the man appeared to be intoxicated, the affidavit states.

The woman initially told deputies that she had been driving Perea's truck, but when deputies informed her that the driver was facing a felony charge for leaving the scene, she quickly changed her story, the affidavit said. She told deputies Perea had asked her to come pick him up from the travel center. She was arrested on a charge of hindering apprehension.

Deputies conducted a field sobriety test on Perea and said he showed signs of impairment. He provided a breath test and showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.11 at 1:11 a.m., nearly three hours after the accident, the affidavit shows.

The legal limit in Arkansas is .08.

Perea, 31, of Rogers was arrested on charges of negligent homicide, felony leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, first-offense driving while intoxicated and reckless driving with injury or death.

Prosecutors argued that he was a flight risk, so his bond was set at $150,000. Perea is currently in the Benton County Detention Center awaiting trial.

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