Gary B. reports on story close to home, literally; two arrested overnight in Independence County


White River Now News Director Gary Bridgman woke early this morning to blue lights in his driveway. As someone who has covered local news for almost 40 years, the scene outside his Independence County home gave him front-row access to a story on which he would report a few hours later…

My alarm clock is set for 4 a.m.

My smartphone is also set for 4. This morning, though, I was awakened by my phone ringing at 3:45 a.m.

It’s my daughter who lives nearby.

“Hello,” she said. “Dad, do you see the blue lights in your driveway?

I say “No,” as I pull back the curtain, but then — I suddenly see them.

“Yes,” I said. “I see the lights. It looks like the police have pulled over a car. I guess they must have just pulled in my driveway and stopped for the officer. He has just taken four people out of the vehicle. They are standing in my driveway. Looks like he is searching the car.”

Later, around 10 a.m., I go by the sheriff’s office and pick up any information that Sheriff Stephens has left for our news department.

There is one report.

Wow, this is it. The report on what was going on in my driveway this morning at 3:45 a.m.

The driver was identified as Kannon Raine Woodhatch (pictured above, left), 23, of Blackland Road in Oil Trough. Woodhatch was one of two females in the car, according to the report. There were also two men in the vehicle. Independence County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Martin placed all four in hand restraints and had dispatch run their identities through the computer for additional information, the report said.

Dispatch reported back to the deputy that, according to the computer check, two of them had parole issues.

Manuel Antonio Valencia (right), 27, was identified as an absconder from the Arkansas Board of Paroles. Woodhatch was on felony probation with Arkansas Probation and Parole.

After the owner of the vehicle granted consent to a search, the report noted several items were found including a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with 8 bullets; a set of digital scales; a metal smoking device with burnt residue inside; 38 empty clear plastic baggies; a handheld police scanner; nine grams of a green, leafy vegetable style substance suspected to be synthetic marijuana; and two needles used to inject drugs.

Deputy Martin said in the report that Woodhatch claimed ownership of all the drugs and paraphernalia found in the car, as well as the gun.

Woodhatch was placed on a probable cause hold for the investigative unit, and Valencia was placed on a hold for probation and parole.

Images via Independence County Sheriff’s Department

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