Four dead after drunk driver rams sports car into homeless encampment

Four people have been confirmed dead and two others have been hospitalized after a drunk 24-year-old man, who was driving at 70mph in a sports car in downtown Salem, crashed his vehicle into a homeless camp Sunday March 27.

Early on Sunday March 27, the accused, Enrique Rodriguez, 24, reportedly lost control of his silver sedan as the two-door sports coupe was traveling north around 2 a.m. and crashed into a camp where homeless people gathered near the intersection of Front Street Northeast and Highway 99E, Daily News reported.

Rodriguez flattened the site and pinned two people under the car in the tragic crash. Investigators believe the suspect’s drunkenness may have been a contributing factor to the incident since Rodriguez’s blood alcohol level was 0.26% at the time of the crash. Meanwhile, the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08%.

Two people died at the scene and two others were taken to Salem Health Hospital. However, these two victims were also pronounced dead shortly afterwards. Three other victims also had to seek treatment immediately after the accident. Meanwhile, Rodriguez, who was the sole occupant of the car, was also rushed to a medical facility for treatment, KATU News reported.

Those killed in the incident have been identified as Jowand Beck, 24, Luke Kagey, 21, Joe Posada III, 54, and Rochelle Zamacona, 29.

Rodriguez has a record of several previous violations of various traffic laws, including driving without a valid license and reckless driving.

“Sunday’s accident was such a tragic incident. Members of our traffic team have done a terrific job in the investigation to make an arrest and in our efforts to bring justice to the victims and their families,” said Salem Police Chief, Trevor Womack.

Rodriguez was arraigned Monday afternoon in Marion County Circuit Court.

During the hearing, Rodriguez’s mother, Maria Arreze, said her son’s “error” is not a reflection of who he is.

“He did wrong…but my son is not a murderer. I promise you that,” she said.

Arreze continued that while her son should be held accountable for his actions, the city of Salem should also recognize its shortcomings by allowing homeless people to sleep on busy and dangerous roads.

Rodriguez is being held without bond in Marion County Jail on charges of first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault, third-degree assault and six counts of reckless endangerment through Tuesday, March 29.

Four people have been confirmed dead and two others have been hospitalized after a drunk 24-year-old man, who was driving at 70mph in a sports car in downtown Salem, crashed his vehicle into a homeless camp Sunday March 27. This is a representative image. Pixabay