Bond set for alleged driver in fatal hit-and-run

A 21-year-old Pine Bluff man who allegedly ran over a 14-year-old boy and killed him, then left the scene, told police he “thought he hit something,” but didn’t know what.

Jontrel Collins was allegedly driving a 2012 Dodge that was southbound on Camden Road when it struck Charles E. Jones III of Pine Bluff, who was with a group of other children trying to cross the highway going west on Union Street. Jones was pronounced dead at the scene and Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley said Saturday the body was sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

A witness who was not identified in a probable-cause affidavit from Detective Christ Wieland of the Pine Bluff Police Department told police the car “was traveling at a high rate of speed” when it struck the boy, and continued south before turning around and heading back north.

Wieland said in the affidavit that the witness said the driver pulled into the old Exxon service station at West 28th Avenue and Camden Road, got out and checked the damage, then got back in and drove away, and the witness lost sight of the vehicle.

Based on the witness description, a police officer stopped a car driven by Collins at West 13th Avenue and Dearborn Street and reported that Collins had a “strong odor of alcoholic beverages on his person.”

Lt. David Price said in a news release that Collins’ alcohol level was not known and a blood sample was drawn at Jefferson Regional Medical Center. That sample will be sent to the State Crime Laboratory at Little Rock for an analysis.

Jefferson County District Judge Kim Bridgforth ruled Monday that prosecutors had probable cause to charge Collins with negligent homicide and with leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death, both felonies.

Bond for Collins was set at $250,000.

Collins said he would hire his own attorney.