Family remembers two killed in SE Portland hit-and-run - KPTV - FOX 12

Family remembers two killed in SE Portland hit-and-run

Posted: Updated: March 11, 2013 09:02 AM
Daniel Troy Johnson Daniel Troy Johnson
Paul Knepper Paul Knepper
Hazel Knepper Hazel Knepper

Police have arrested a driver who they say was drunk when he sped through a stop sign and caused the death of an elderly mother and her adult son.

Portland police say Daniel Johnson, age 29, had initially fled the scene of the crash along with two other passengers in his vehicle. 

Dozens of witnesses watched the accident occur just before 5 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Southeast 28th Place and Southeast Gladstone.

Witnesses told FOX 12 that Johnson's Escalade blasted through the intersection and slammed into the car, which then crashed into a pole.

"It was just a huge crash, just ear-shattering," said Becky Thomas, who witnessed the crash from a restaurant up the street. "Glass flying and you could just see by looking the car nobody could have survived it."

"We heard the guy coming up really fast behind us," said Erin Bailey, who was walking on the sidewalk when it happened. "So we turned around to see what was going on. He did not even tap the breaks, he just flew through that intersection at about 60 mph and hit that car."

Police say Johnson and two unidentified passengers ran on foot away from the crash scene, while a third passenger, 28-year-old Benjamin Arce, and a dog remained in the SUV.

Arce was transported to a Portland hospital for treatment to non-life-threatening injuries. The dog was taken by Multnomah County Animal Control.

Johnson was eventually located by police at Southeast 29th Avenue and Powell Boulevard, where he was taken into custody.

The two people killed have been identified as 55-year-old Paul Lawrence Knepper and his mother, 90-year-old Hazel Agnes Knepper. Both died at the scene.

"My uncle Paul was an athlete and a scholar and he was a teacher and a writer," said John Knepper, who lost his grandmother and uncle in the crash. "My grandma Hazel had a heart of gold and took very good care of all her grandchildren, and my mother and father. She was always there for us."

John Knepper said his uncle and grandmother were extremely close and would go on daily walks in the park.

"Sometimes tough things bring you closer and that's what my family has done," he said. "We're spending time together and just being there for each other."

Johnson is facing charges that include manslaughter, felony hit and run, assault and DUII. He will make his first court appearance Monday.

Police say these are the 10th and 11th traffic fatalities of 2013.

Anyone with information on the other two passengers who are still outstanding is asked to contact Officer Pete Kurronen at (503) 823-2208.

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