NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A North Little Rock man surrendered to state police Wednesday and now faces charges tied to an April crash that killed an elderly Benton man and injured his wife.
Officials with the Arkansas State Police said 20-year-old Darmel Dashun Batemon Jr. was charged with felony manslaughter and second-degree battery for the April 8 crash. Batemon was also charged with a misdemeanor of driving without a license.
He has pleaded not guilty to all of these charges.
ASP investigators said Batemon was racing another driver on Interstate 430 North that afternoon when his 2012 Dodge Charger crashed into a 2015 Toyota Avalon being driven by 84-year-old Gerald Stuart Allen.
Allen’s car was forced off the road and crashed into a tree. He died from his injuries and his wife was seriously injured as well. Investigators said Batemon was also injured in the wreck.
In a release Friday, ASP Colonel Mike Hagar called Allen’s death “senseless” and cited the dangers of street racing.
“My hope is that this senseless tragedy will serve to help us educate the public about the deadly consequences of street racing,” Hagar said. “Mr. Allen’s death was completely preventable. He and his wife should have enjoyed the retirement they earned. Racing and driving at high rates of speed endanger everyone on the road.”
Allen was a retired Colonel with the Arkansas Army National Guard who had served as Commander of the 39th Support Battalion of the 39th Infantry Brigade. In his obituary, Allen’s family asked for the public to reach out to lawmakers to enhance penalties for street racing.
“The family asks that you consider contacting your state representative and requesting stronger penalties for those who are caught street racing on public roadways so that such senseless and tragic deaths and injuries may be prevented,” they wrote.
According to the ASP, estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that around 800 people have died in connection to street racing crashes in the last decade alone.