Driver Veers Off Road, Crashes Into Homeless Encampment And Kills Four People


Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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UPDATE: Police later arrested a 24-year-old man, according to The Oregonian.

Four people in Oregon are dead after a driver veered off the road and slammed into a homeless encampment Sunday, according to authorities.

The incident unfolded around 2:00 a.m. Sunday, when Salem Police and Fire Departments responded to a crash into a homeless encampment. Two individuals were pronounced dead on the scene, while four individuals were taken from the encampment to Salem Health with life-threatening injuries, according to the Salem Police Department. Two of those individuals later succumbed to their injuries.

The driver, 24-year-old Enrique Rodriguez Jr., was also taken to the hospital, according to the police. (RELATED: Los Angeles Spends $837,000 To House Just One Homeless Person)

Authorities said Rodriguez was allegedly driving a two-door sports coupe when “the vehicle left the roadway and crashed into an unsheltered encampment pinning two individuals beneath the car.” Authorities believe “alcohol may have been a contributing factor.”

Officers arrived on scene and “helped several uninjured campers” collect some of their items and “provided shelter assistance,” while three of the individuals were taken to a local motel.

Salem’s homeless advocacy partners joined in on efforts to “get the members of our unsheltered community connected to needed resources as a result of this tragedy,” according to the police.

Rodriguez has been charged with four counts of manslaughter in the first degree and six counts of reckless endangerment, as well as assault in the second degree and assault in the third degree. He is currently being held at the Marion County Jail, according to police.

Nathan Rose and his girlfriend told the Salem Statesman Journal they were in their tent when they heard the crash, saying the car just missed them.

Rose reportedly said he saw friends pinned under the vehicle and helped pull a person from beneath it. He and other witnesses of the incident were unable to aid others, according to the Salem Statesman Journal.

“From there, it was just chaos,” Rose said, according to the outlet.

“No one deserves to have to live in unsheltered conditions and they damn sure do not deserve to die in them,” Jimmy Jones, the executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, said, according to the report. “Tragedies like this will continue until this nation makes a serious commitment to the idea that housing is a human right, and that everyone deserves a warm, safe and dry place where they can live with dignity.”