Driver who crashed into Salem homeless camp sentenced to 25 years

SALEM, Ore. (KGW) — A driver who hit and killed four people in March 2022 while under the influence of alcohol was sentenced to 310 months in prison on Wednesday, according to the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

On Mar. 27, 2022, 25-year-old Enrique Rodriguez crashed his two-door sports coupe into a homeless encampment in the area of Front Street Northeast and Division Street Northeast in downtown Salem.

According to Salem Police, two people died on the scene. Four others were taken to the Salem Health hospital with life-threatening injuries. Two of them later died at the hospital.

Those killed were Jowand Beck, 24, Luke Kagey, 21, Joe Posada III, 54 and Rochelle Zamacona, 29, according to police. The two injured victims that survived are Derrick Hart, 43 and Savaanah Miller, 18.

An investigation showed Rodriguez was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident and was driving with a suspended driver’s license. His blood alcohol content was .224%, more than triple the legal limit, according to prosecutors.

Rodriguez was arrested by Salem police and charged with two counts of manslaughter in the first degree, a misdemeanor DUII charge, two counts of assault in the second degree, a reckless driving charge and three counts of reckless endangerment.

In November, Rodriguez pled guilty to all charges against him. He had no prior criminal convictions, according to the district attorney’s office.

“One person and one person alone stands responsible for the senseless and avoidable deaths of these vulnerable members of our community, and that is Enrique Rodriguez,” said Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson.

“This defendant made the tragic and deadly decision to drive drunk. Four people paid the ultimate price for his selfish behavior,” Clarkson continued. “And now this defendant must face the consequences of those choices. The families of those he killed and those he injured will live with this forever.”

Rodriguez has been in custody at the Marion County Jail since the crash and will soon be transferred to the Oregon Department of Corrections to serve his prison sentence.

“While today’s sentence does not erase this tragic event, my hope is that the families of those killed and the survivors can move forward knowing the man responsible has been held accountable,” said Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack.

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