Marion County Deputies have arrested the man they believe was behind the wheel of a van involved in a hit-and-run crash that injured three people near Gervais on Monday night.
Eleazar Martinez-Ortiz, 20, of Salem, was arrested in Molalla on Thursday afternoon following a three-day investigation. He was originally treated as a person of interest based on paperwork found in the Dodge Caravan left at the scene of the crash.
Deputies said Martinez-Ortiz crashed the van into two cars parked on the side of Howell Prairie Road. Three people were injured while trying to jump the battery of one of the cars. Guadalupe Santos Montes and his wife, Iris Hernandez, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Their 3-year old son was safely secured in a car seat and was not injured. The third victim, Florencia Hernandez-Bautista was treated for moderate injuries, but has since been released.
Deputies said after the crash, Martinez-Ortiz and a passenger took off running. Deputies found several open containers of alcohol in the van as well as evidence that suggested the driver and passenger suffered head injuries in the crash.
Deputies spent several days sifting through evidence until they found what appeared to be a permanent residence card with Martinez-Ortiz's name on it. Deputies further determined that Martinez-Ortiz was a migrant worker who lived in a camp just south of the crash scene.
When deputies arrived to talk to Martinez-Ortiz, he was observed with a fresh cut on the bridge of his nose, covered with a bandage. He confessed to being the owner and driver of the van and admitted to drinking just prior to the crash.
He said he saw a woman lying on the ground, but admitted he hadn't stopped to help her. Instead, he ran south, removed his bloody clothes and discarded them. The bloody shoes deputies found near the scene were also his.
Martinez-Ortiz was booked into the Marion County Jail on three counts of felony hit-and-run, two counts of assault 2, tampering with evidence, identity theft and possession of a forged instrument.
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