“It feels like the Bachelor franchise had to distance itself from me. It’s a difficult thing," says Chris Soules
It’s been four years since Chris Soules charmed Bachelor Nation as the suitor known as “Prince Farming” on The Bachelor.
But now, as the Iowa farmer navigates the painful aftermath of a devastating 2017 accident in which farmer Kenneth Mosher was killed, Soules says his relationship with the show that made him famous has changed.
“It’s complicated,” Soules, 37, tells PEOPLE. “It feels like the Bachelor franchise had to distance itself from me. It’s a difficult thing.”
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In April 2017, Soules, driving a truck, rear-ended Mosher’s tractor. Despite Soules’ attempts to resuscitate him with CPR, Mosher died hours later.
His connection to the incident propelled it to national news, and Soules, amidst his intense grief, also contended with numerous false reports (including that he had been drinking the night of the accident) and public scrutiny.
“I watched people on different media outlets who were my biggest fan for three years saying that my life was ruined,” says Soules. “I wasn’t able to remorse, or feel anything, because I was so inundated.”
Soules, who drove himself from the accident site after paramedics arrived, was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident. The terms of release from his initial court appearance included a 24-hour ankle monitoring bracelet and an 11 p.m. curfew, as well as the requirement that he obtain written permission to leave the state. (In August 2019, he was sentenced to two years probation for leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury.)
“I went from being a public person to being extremely isolated,” says Soules.
And when it came to fellow members of Bachelor Nation, “I think a lot of people were afraid to reach out,” he says. “They wanted to be there for me but they didn’t know what to do or say.”
Still, Soules says he received support from show alums Andi Dorfman and Ben Higgins, as well as former contestant Dylan Pettit. And four-and-a-half months after the accident, Soules, wearing his ankle bracelet, attended the wedding of Bachelor alum Sharleen Joynt.
Nonetheless, Soules says his relationship with the franchise is “awkward,” at least for the time being. “It was a part of my life for so long, and then it just went away.”
But for now, Soules is focused on the bigger picture — on mourning the loss of Mosher, coming together with his family in order to heal, and trying to move on, while never losing sight of the devastating incident.
“I think about [the accident] every day,” says Soules. “But I will carry on, and as a result of the tragedy, do something bigger and better with my life.”