Chris Soules, an Iowa farmer who starred on The Bachelor two years ago, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of causing a deadly accident and leaving the scene.

Soules, who was portrayed as a wholesome country boy looking for love on season 19 of the ABC reality show, was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that rear-ended a tractor in northern Iowa on Monday night, the Iowa State Patrol said.

The crash sent the tractor into a ditch on one side of the road and Soules' truck into a ditch on the other side, the patrol said. The tractor driver was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The patrol identified him as 66-year-old Kenneth Mosher, a farmer from Aurora, which is about 24 kilometres south of Soules' farm in Arlington and about 105k north of Iowa City.

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This photo provided by the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office in Independence shows Chris Soules after his arrest. Photo / AP
This photo provided by the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office in Independence shows Chris Soules after his arrest. Photo / AP

Authorities said someone called 911 to report the crash, but they didn't release the identity of the caller or audio of the call.

Investigators spoke to multiple witnesses and determined that Soules caused the crash and left the scene, according to a complaint, which doesn't name the witnesses.

Alcohol was found at the scene, and investigators are trying to determine whose it was, said Sheriff Bill Wolgram. Court records show that Soules has had some driving infractions in the past, including a 2006 conviction for operating while intoxicated.

Soules, 35, was arrested in Aurora early Tuesday, about five hours after the crash, and was booked into the Buchanan County Jail on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.

He was released around midday on US$10,000 ($14,400) bond, and will be required to surrender his passport and wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet until his trial, jail officials said.

Soules' lawyers, Sean and Molly Spellman, didn't immediately reply to messages seeking comment. His spokesman, Stan Rosenfield, issued a statement saying Soules "was devastated" to learn that Mosher died.

"His thoughts and prayers are with Mr Mosher's family," said Rosenfield, who declined to comment further.

Soules first drew national attention as a participant in The Bachelorette in 2014, when he tried to win the affections of star Andi Dorfman but was passed over. A fan favourite, ABC had him back as The Bachelor the following year.

His appearance drew attention to farming life and some of the struggles facing rural Iowa.

He proposed to Chicago fertility nurse Whitney Bischoff at the end of his season, but their relationship ended shortly after the show.

Soules has since served as a spokesman for various agricultural interests and worked in farm real estate and investing.

The crash comes as Governor Terry Branstad and lawmakers have expressed alarm about a rising number of deaths on Iowa roadways caused by intoxicated and distracted drivers.

Branstad last week signed laws allowing officers to pull over drivers for texting while driving, increasing the penalties for texting-related vehicular homicides, and creating a statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program for intoxicated drivers.

- AP