Driver of homeless camp crash that left 4 dead, 3 injured arraigned
SALEM, Ore. (KPTV) - Four people were killed and three others were injured after a driver crashed into a homeless camp in Salem early Sunday morning, the Salem Police Department said.
Police said at about 2 a.m. Sunday, it responded to the area of Front Street Northeast and Division Street Northeast. Officers found a car that crashed into a homeless camp.
Police said two people died at the scene. Four other people from the homeless camp were taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, where two later died.
On Monday, police identified the people killed as 24-year-old Jowand Beck, 21-year-old Luke Kagey, 54-year-old Joe Posada III and 29-year-old Rochelle Zamacona.
The people injured were identified as 43-year-old Derrick Hart and 18-year-old Savaanah Miller. As of Monday afternoon, police said they were still hospitalized.
“The car hit the curb and as it bounced, it accelerated,” witness Angelo Cabantoy said.
Cabantoy was sitting outside of his tent around 2:30 a.m. when he saw a northbound car on Front St. leave the road and plow into his neighbors feet away.
“I went over there and about ten guys lifted the car up and got one guy out from underneath,” he said.
Cabantoy said he doesn’t know the victims personally, but he said they’re still his neighbors.
“I buried my dad and now I’m burying my friends out here,” he said.
Cabantoy said he’s been homeless for more than two decades and finding a safe place to call home is a challenge.
“We have our safety but what can you do if somebody is speeding or racing around the corner?” he said. “When you’re a drunk driver it could happen to anybody. I’d rather walk in the street then walk in the sidewalk.”
SPD helped uninjured campers collect their belongings and provided shelter. Three people were taken to a local motel. Salem homeless advocacy partners also helped campers connect to needed resources as a result of the crash.
The driver of the car, 24-year-old Enrique Rodriguez, Jr. was also taken to the hospital, then arrested. The prosecutor said he was driving at 70 miles and hour and had a blood alcohol level 0.26, about three times the legal limit.
Rodriguez was arraigned Monday on four counts of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, and reckless endangerment.
The father Zamacona, one of the victims, spoke in court and asked the judge to deny Rodriguez bail.
Rodriguez’s mother also spoke after the arraignment.
“I want my son to get a second chance. I don’t expect him to be free of everything that happened. But I want the city to accountable as well,” she said. “They have all of these people running around like crazy. It’s not fair he’s only getting a fault for this. He did wrong. You best believe he is here for doing that. But my son is not a murder.”
Rodriguez’s next court appearance will be on Wednesday.
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