A man suspected in a crash that claimed two lives last year is now charged, nearly a year after the crash.

Jacob Stephens, 27, of Huntsville, is charged with two counts of reckless murder, two counts of first-degree assault – DUI, and one count of reckless endangerment.

The crash happened on Nov. 27, 2021, when authorities say Stephens drove into oncoming traffic on Interstate 565, striking two vehicles. Arlene Velasquez and Hannah Parton were pronounced dead on the scene. Five others in the vehicle with Velasquez were also hurt.

Madison County chief deputy district attorney Tim Gann said it took a while for the case to go to the grand jury because of COVID. However, Stephens was recently arrested in Lauderdale County, and when Parton's mother, Sheila Parton, alerted the DA's office, the office launched an investigation, which led to an arrest.

"Just because he is continuing to engage in reckless behavior very similar to what the original case stems from and we were able to have all the evidence we needed because it had been so long, we were able to arrest him," said Gann.

The Parton family told 1819 News they were pleased with the arrest.

Stephens was booked into the Madison County Jail on bonds totaling $306,000. Gann said he would request Stephens be electronically monitored if he is released.

The families of the victim have also filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful death against Stephens, his parents, and two companies they believe served him alcohol before the crash.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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