Man Involved in Deadly Wrong-Way Bridge Crash Granted Parole Day Before

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Officials say the man who died after hitting a cyclist going the wrong-way on the Main Street Bridge this week was released on parole the day before.

"We wish that we could look down the road and see whether or not he was going to comply," says Arkansas Parole Board Chairman John Felts.

Parolee John Blanks, 53, had just one day of freedom before being killed in a crash in North Little Rock Wednesday. Investigators say he was driving a stolen truck the wrong-way on the Main Street Bridge, hit and killed a bicyclist then died himself when he was ejected.

"In this case, we were greatly disappointed that his happened," says Felts.

Blanks was serving a five year sentence on a robbery charge.

"November, of this year, he would be a free man under no supervision. If he were held to that day he would walk out a free person," says Felts.

Blanks was denied parole in 2014. Officials say they granted parole this time with hopes he could get back on track before his sentence was up.

Blanks' criminal record began in 1988 with breaking and entering charges but it escalated to robbery and terroristic threatening in the 90's and 2000's.

Arkansas Department of Correction Spokesperson Solomon Graves says Blanks has been in and out of trouble while in prison. Since 2015, Blanks was accused of possession of drugs, possession of stolen property and assault.

Drivers on the Main Street Bridge know their destination, officials say they wish they would've known Blanks.

"We felt like he should be given an opportunity during that last eight month time period to see if he couldn't abide by the rules and regulations of parole," says Blanks.

It's unclear if Blanks was under the influence when the accident happened. North Little Rock Police have requested toxicology results from the State Crime Lab.

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