Officer tracks fluids from wrecked car; driver faces felonies

A Hot Springs Police Department patrol unit is shown outside the department in this 2022 file photo. (The Sentinel-Record/File photo)

A Hot Springs police officer followed a trail of fluids from a wrecked car early Thursday morning and found its allegedly intoxicated driver, who was then facing felony charges after guns were found in the vehicle and it was determined he is a felon, an arrest report said.

Paul Albert Watt Jr., 37, of 402 Crestwood St., was taken into custody at his residence around 1:45 a.m. and charged with two felony counts of possession of a firearm by certain persons, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and misdemeanor counts of driving while intoxicated, first offense, and leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage.

Watt, who was also cited for careless and prohibited driving, was later released on a $11,000 bond and is set to appear Dec. 19 in Garland County District Court. According to the affidavit, Watt was previously convicted of felony counts of theft of property and breaking and entering in Garland County on Nov. 5, 2005.

Shortly after 1:30 a.m. Thursday, Hot Springs police Officer Acxsel Rios responded to the 2300 block of Central Avenue regarding a wreck, the affidavit said, and found "what appeared to be pieces of a bumper" in the roadway that were determined to belong to a vehicle that had struck a tree on Crestwood Street.

Rios noticed a trail of fluids that he was able to follow west on Crestwood, then turning north onto Sonnet Street, and back to Crestwood where he finally found a silver 2009 Cadillac Escalade with heavy front end damage at 402 Crestwood.

He noted the driver's side door and the door to the residence were both standing open. He allegedly saw a long rifle and a Palmetto handgun "in plain view inside the damaged vehicle."

Officers also observed "multiple droplets of blood" inside the vehicle and as they approached the residence they could hear the vehicle's locking mechanism repeatedly going off "as if someone were attempting to lock the vehicle."

A white male, later identified as Watt, walked to the door and officers noted he had injuries to his face. He was instructed to walk toward the officers and as he got closer they noted Watt had "bloodshot, watery eyes," was unsteady on his feet and had an odor of intoxicants "coming from his person."

After being read his rights, Watt was questioned by the officers and allegedly stated he had been at an adult entertainment club earlier that morning and when he attempted to leave "approximately five guys" began to attack him and punch him.

He stated on his way home he struck a tree and "eventually made it home." He reportedly admitted to drinking that morning, being in the Cadillac and colliding with a tree near First Baptist Church, located at Central and Crestwood.

When asked if he knew he shouldn't have the firearms observed in his vehicle, Watt reportedly stated Arkansas is "an open carry state" and he could have them. Because of Watt's reported felon status which prohibits him from owning or possessing firearms, he was taken into custody.

Due to Watt's injuries and his already being detained for having the firearms, no field sobriety tests were performed. Watt was transported to CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs for treatment and evaluation of his injuries.

While at the hospital, Watt was asked if he would consent to a blood test and he said yes so a blood sample was collected and will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, the affidavit said.

photo Paul Albert Watt Jr. (Submitted photo)