Police: Driver in triple fatal crash Sunday night drank eight beers before getting behind wheel

The Salem man accused of killing three teens in a car crash Sunday night told a deputy he drank eight beers before getting behind the wheel, according to a probable cause affidavit released Tuesday by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

The newly released documents show when police questioned Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Palacios, he said he was initially concerned about his vehicle, phone and a DUII charge after the crash.

It was only after learning the three teens died that Rodriguez-Palacios expressed concern, according to the affidavit filed by Salem Police officer Bobby Singleton.

Rodriguez-Palacios told Singleton he drank two beers after work and tested his blood alcohol level using a friend’s ignition interlock device.

A blood draw at Salem Hospital showed a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit.

At 5:30 a.m. — more than six hours after the crash — Rodriguez Palacios told Singleton he was not intoxicated and didn’t feel the effects of the alcohol he had consumed.

A breath test indicated he had a blood alcohol level of .112, according to court documents. 

Documents also show a passenger in Rodriguez-Palacios’ Jeep felt he drove “fast and in a reckless manner” in the minutes leading up to the crash. He said he told him to stop or slow down, according to court documents.

The crash, which occurred around 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of Salem Parkway and Cherry Avenue Northeast, killed Salem teens Trinity Watt, 19 and Madison Capobianco, 19, and Makayla Tryon, 18, from Keizer.

Rodriguez-Palacios, 25, was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on Tuesday on three counts of first-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Marion County court records show Rodriguez-Palacios was involved in a drunk driving accident in 2015 and was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving, failure to perform the duties of a driver and three counts of recklessly endangering another person.

He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was placed in diversion. Records show he completed the diversion requirements and the charge was then dismissed. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver. The three counts of recklessly endangering another person were dismissed.