Fatal crash closes I-5 southbound near Capitol Highway - KPTV - FOX 12

Arrest made after deadly crash that closed I-5 southbound

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Ronald Witt Ronald Witt

Portland police have made an arrest in connection with Friday's deadly crash along Interstate 5 near the Capital Highway that shut down the southbound lanes for several hours.

Ronald Witt was charged with driving while revoked, police said. He was taken to the Multnomah County Detention Center.

Witt was driving a Ford F-150 pickup and rear-ended a small Chevrolet Coupe, police said. The coupe then rear-ended a nearby Audi. The driver of the Chevrolet Coupe died, investigators said.

On Saturday the medical examiner identified the victim as Thomas Swift, 52, from Vancouver, WA.

One of the victim's coworkers said Swift was on his way to Tigard when the crash happened around 4:20 p.m. He was a dedicated and jovial guy who loved his job, the coworker said.

Two men who work at a nearby store heard Friday afternoon's crash while they were outside taking a break and rushed over to the victim's side.

"We heard this big bang," said Jimmy Gomez. "I knew it wasn't a gunshot because it sounded way bigger than a gunshot."

Gomez said he and his coworker, Nick Tobias, looked over at the freeway and saw that the entire back end of a white car with Washington plates had been smashed in.

"The car itself is crumpled almost in half, and the gentleman's not moving inside," Tobias said. "Essentially we were struck with what to do. Do you move him or not?"

Gomez and Tobias ran onto the freeway to see if the driver was OK, they said.

"Once we got him out of the car, we tried to open his airway to see if he could breathe. His eyes were wide open," Gomez said.

Gomez said he found a piece of paper with the victim's name on it and tried to get a response. Out of nowhere, another man appeared with a CPR kit and started giving the victim mouth-to-mouth, Gomez said. But it was too late.

"I ran over there trying to help him out and not being able to help him out makes you feel bad," Gomez said. "I did what I wish somebody would do for me. It's all I do."

After Gomez realized the driver did not survive the crash, he and several other witnesses tried to direct traffic so that first responders could get through, he said.

Friday's crash shut down all southbound lanes of the freeway for several hours, which forced drivers to take alternate routes at the start of rush hour. The southbound lanes reopened at around 9 p.m. Friday.

"It's a tragedy," Tobias said. "It's a shame, and it just really kind of makes you think that it could happen to anybody at any time. So you just got to be careful."

According to records, Witt has a lengthy history of arrests related to driving, including a conviction for DUII and driving on a suspended license.

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