Trainer Cole Norman is facing manslaughter charges in Hot Springs, Ark., for his role in a fatal accident that left an 86-year-old woman dead.
The Feb. 5 accident occurred when Norman, driving a Cadillac Escalade, crossed the center line and collided head-on with a Ford Explorer driven by Virginia Heath. Heath, a cousin of former President Bill Clinton, died hours after the accident.
According to Terri Harris, chief deputy for the Garland County prosecuting attorney's office, Norman's manslaughter charge falls under the category of vehicular homicide and is a Class C felony under Arkansas law.
Harris said Norman turned himself over to the Garland County Sheriff's Office May 10 and the Circuit Court Judge set his bond at $7,500. He has since been released from custody.
"Norman will have his initial court appearance in two to three weeks and a trial date will be set for late fall or early next year," said Harris.
Under Arkansas law, punishment for the manslaughter charges includes no less than three and no more than 10 years in an Arkansas Corrections Center, in addition to a fine of $10,000 or a combination of both fine and incarceration.
Harris said toxicology reports said no alcohol was present in Norman's system at the time of the accident, but prescription painkillers were found to be in his blood system. Norman held valid prescriptions for the medications.
In addition to criminal charges, Norman has been named in a wrongful death suit stemming from the accident, according to newspaper reports in the Sentinel-Record in Hot Springs. Randall Parsley, a nephew of Heath, brought the suit.
Norman began serving a six-month suspension in March for a medication infraction incurred by one of his starters in Louisiana.
He has not started a horse since Feb. 11 and one week later transferred the majority of horses in his care to Jorge Lara, a longtime assistant.