It’s been two-and-a-half years since Chris Soules was involved in a terrible accident in which a man lost his life, and the former Bachelor star is opening up for the first time about the tragedy — and mourning the man who died.
In April 2017, Soules, driving a pickup truck near his home in rural Iowa, rear-ended fellow farmer, 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher, who was driving a tractor. Mosher was thrown from the tractor and died hours after the accident occurred.
“I pray for family every day,” Soules, 37, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I wish I could have done more and been able to change in any way, shape or form the outcome of what happened.”
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After the accident, Soules called 911 and per their instruction, administered CPR to an unconscious Mosher until eventually, “I spat out his blood,” he says. “At that point, it didn’t seem to be doing a lot of good. He coughed up blood in my mouth.”
Eventually, paramedics arrived to transport Mosher to the hospital, and Soules made the fateful decision to leave the scene and drive home. In May 2019, Soules received two years probation for leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury. (Contrary to false reports, Soules says he was not drinking the day of the accident. Multiple witnesses present on scene said he did not smell of alcohol and a blood test administered six hours after the crash registered a 0.0.)
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But the end of a protracted legal case has a silver lining for Soules, who says he hopes to come together with the Mosher family in order to properly grieve the loss of their husband and father.
“The sad part is that with everything going on legally, there wasn’t a chance to mourn,” says Soules. “And I’m looking forward to that in the months and years ahead as we all heal and move forward.”
In an ironic twist, Soules, whose 6,000-acre farm was close to Mosher’s, says he knew of the man, but only had his first conversation with Mosher the month before the accident.
“We farm right across the fence from him,” says Soules of Mosher. “We were cleaning a fence line that we share with him and he came out to see what was going on and we told him and no big deal. That was the first time we interacted on a personal level. But I’ve watched him farm my whole life.”
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Driving by the site of the accident now, “I feel sick,” Soules admits. “I drive it all the time. It’s impossible not to think about. And I don’t think that will ever change.”
But Soules says he’s focused on the future, even as he still struggles to come to terms with the horrific incident.
“I’ll live with forever,” he says. “But I’ll carry on, and as a result of the tragedy, do something bigger and better with my life.”