Tire marks show the path of a car as it left Northeast Front Street and plowed through a homeless camp on Sunday. Four people died. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)
A Salem man police say drove into a homeless camp along Front Street Sunday and killed four had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit the morning of the crash, according to a Salem police probable cause affidavit.
The crash killed four people living at the camp and injured two more.
Witnesses at Marion Square Park reported seeing Enrique Rodriguez Jr. driving his 2003 Nissan 300ZX with a California license plate at 60-70 miles per hour in a 35 zone, headed north on Northeast Front Street approaching Union Street, according to the affidavit.
He failed to follow a slight curve in the road, crossed the raised center median, left the road and crashed into the encampment.
Salem police identified those killed in the crash as Jowand Beck, 24, Luke Kagey, 21, Joe Posada III, 54, and Rochelle Zamacona, 29.
Two more people in the camp were hospitalized. Derrick Hart suffered broken ribs, a possible fractured back and an open fracture to his ankle. Savannah Miller suffered broken ribs and four life-threatening lacerations to her liver, the affidavit said.
The car "narrowly missed" five others, according to the affidavit.
Rodriguez was "visibly intoxicated" and had red, watery eyes, slurred speech, a flush sack face and a strong odor of alcohol. He admitted to having four drinks before the crash and told police "transients walked out in front of him," the affidavit said.
A blood draw showed Rodriguez's blood-alcohol level was 0.26, the affidavit said, over three times the legal limit of 0.08.
Rodriguez became upset at the hospital because he couldn't smoke a cigarette, pick up his vehicle or have his phone, despite officers already explaining his charges and that he was under arrest.
"He initially expressed concern for the victims but quickly shifted to anger over not getting to smoke have his phone or vehicle. He became so enraged I had to step out of the room due to his name calling," Salem police officer Gary Engler wrote in the affidavit. He yelled obscenities at the officer, and a nurse who heard him went into the room to tell him to stop cursing.
Police learned Rodriguez's driving privileges were suspended, and he had a warrant out of Lebanon Municipal Court for a probation violation related to him driving while suspended. He also had several citations for driving while suspended and driving uninsured, as well as a 2017 conviction for careless driving.
Just before 3 p.m. on March 26, 12 hours before the crash, a woman called to report Rodriguez's vehicle driving recklessly, sharing a picture of the car. She said its tires spun as it rounded the corner from westbound Salem Parkway onto Northbound Cherry Avenue, and it appeared to be racing with a white Subaru that was driving right behind in a similar fashion.
The woman said Rodriguez's vehicle got stopped behind traffic at Northeast Sam Orcutt Way and start spinning its tires while traffic was stopped, nearly losing control and hitting pedestrians who were walking on Northeast Cherry Street. She added that the cars were exceeding "freeway speeds," the affidavit said.