Cops: Idol Hit-and-Run Suspect Was Fleeing Police

07/27/2009 at 05:15 PM EDT

Cops: Idol Hit-and-Run Suspect Was Fleeing Police
Alexis Cohen
A drunken driver who allegedly killed an American Idol contestant in a New Jersey hit-and-run case had a previous DUI on his record and was fleeing police at the time of the fatal collision, authorities say.

Daniel J. Bark, 23, of Toms River, N.J., was being held in an Ocean County jail on $150,000 bail on charges of aggravated manslaughter, death by vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident.

According to Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford, Bark hit and killed 25-year-old Alexis Cohen while fleeing police in Seaside Heights. At around 3:49 a.m., Bark – with a 2004 drunk driving conviction – had a minor collision with a parked car in a lot next to a bar called Hemingway's, Lynch Ford says. A Seaside Heights officer on a bike ordered him to stop, but he took off, she says.

Minutes later, Bark was pulled over by Seaside Heights police and arrested for driving under the influence," says Seaside Heights police Chief Thomas Boyd.

While Bark was being held at the police station, two people contacted police about a lifeless body, which was determined to be Cohen. Bark's escape route involved the street where Cohen was found, prosecutor Lynch Ford says.

Bark, who refused a breathalyzer test, was released at 7 a.m. "He was released as you would with any drunken driver," says Boyd, noting that his officers knew where Bark worked and lived, and did not have enough information early Saturday morning to charge him in Cohen's death.

Bark was arrested Sunday night at a Foodtown in Atlantic Highlands, where he worked as a deli clerk.

An attorney for Bark didn't immediately comment.

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