Man won’t face charges for double-fatal hit-and-run

CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. – Investigators have finished reviewing a double-fatal hit-and-run case from 2013. They say they’ve found the man responsible, but he won’t be prosecuted.

The Josephine County District Attorney’s Office said just after midnight on October 30, 2013, 42-year-old Robert Calvin and his girlfriend were walking on Highway 199 south of Cave Junction.

At the time, 21-year-old Jarred Houston was driving his vehicle aggressively in the area, investigators said. Calvin swung a grocery bag in the direction of Houston’s vehicle as he passed.

Prosecutors said Houston and a passenger got out of the vehicle and confronted Calvin. Houston and Calvin started fighting, with Houston hitting Calvin several times.

Houston’s passenger broke up the fight after Calvin told his girlfriend to run.

The D.A.’s office said Calvin’s girlfriend was afraid he’d be killed, so she started running toward a nearby home. She took the keys from Houston’s vehicle and tossed them into nearby brush because she didn’t want him to get away.

According to investigators, when Houston found out the keys were missing, he got angry and went back to Calvin. They fought in the southbound lane of Highway 199. While Houston was on top of Calvin, a Toyota truck driven by a then-unknown person hit the pair, killing them both.

The driver of the Toyota and his passenger left the scene and didn’t report the collision.

Police began a long investigation, but nobody came forward with information about the driver of the pickup truck—eventually identified as Jesse Scott Coley—until October 2017.

The information obtained in October 2017 was hearsay information from two citizens. When Coley was questioned by police in June 2018, he lied to police, the D.A.’s office said.

In December 2018, the passenger who was with Coley on the day of the incident came forward, explaining Coley “accidentally” hit Houston and Calvin. The passenger said she initially didn’t know what they hit and Coley wasn’t speeding, but he also wasn’t paying attention to the roadway as she and Coley were reportedly “making out” at the time.

Prosecutors said in January, 2019, Coley finally explained what had happened. He described the foggy conditions the day the crash happened, and how he had no time to avoid what he thought was garbage in the road. He decided, in the moment, to “straddle” it with his truck. Just before the crash, he realized it was a person.

According to Coley’s testimony, he went back to the scene after the crash and approached a firefighter on scene, telling him he thought he hit a deer. The firefighter reportedly explained two people had been killed. The firefighter apparently didn’t realize Coley was involved, he said. Coley said he left the scene after the conversation.

Coley told police he was driving carefully prior to the crash and he was not making out with his passenger.

The district attorney’s office said Coley committed the crime of failure to perform the duties of a driver to injured persons. His conduct may have amounted to criminally negligent homicide. However, under Oregon law, the statute of limitations for those crimes is three years. “As a result,” prosecutors said, “it is not possible for Jesse Scott Coley to be charged with crimes related to his conduct on October 30, 2013.”

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