The man arrested for driving drunk, crashing into a homeless encampment north of downtown Salem and killing four people is set to be sentenced Wednesday.
Enrique Rodriguez Jr., 25, of Salem, has pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, DUI, reckless driving and three counts of recklessly endangering another person.
In the early morning hours of March 27, Rodriguez crashed his silver Nissan 300ZX into a cluster of tents sandwiched between Front Street NE and a railroad track on a small patch of grass and trees owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation just north of downtown.
According to police records, he was spotted street racing and speeding in the hours before the crash. His blood-alcohol content was .26% — more than three times the legal limit.
One witness estimated Rodriguez was going about 70 miles per hour on the road moments before the crash. The posted speed limit on the street is 35 mph.
After he failed to negotiate the turn on the road, he crossed the center median and barreled into the encampment.
He struck six people, killing Jowand Beck, 24, Luke Kagey, 21, Joe Posado III, 54, and Rochelle Zamacona, 29.
Derrick Hart, 43, and Savannah Miller, 18, were hospitalized with serious injuries. Five other people camping at the spot reported narrowly dodging the speeding car.
Responding officers reported that Rodriguez was visibly intoxicated, and had red, watery eyes, slurred speech, a flush, slack face and smelled of alcohol.
He told police he had four drinks before the crash.
Salem police arrested Rodriguez while he was at the hospital. Rodriguez initially expressed concern for the victims but “quickly shifted to anger” over not getting to smoke a cigarette and when police told him he couldn’t have his phone or car, according to the probable cause statement filed by Salem Police.
Witnesses reported an incident 12 hours before the crash involving a vehicle and driver matching Rodriguez’s description. They told police the driver was “spinning tires” and racing a Subaru on Salem Parkway, almost striking a truck and driving at freeway speeds.
Rodriguez’s driving record showed his driver’s license was suspended and he had a warrant out of Lebanon Municipal Court for a probation violation for driving while suspended, according to police statements.
He had been found in violation of various traffic laws, including reckless driving and driving uninsured since about 2014.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to all 11 counts against him on Nov. 2 According to court records, he faces prison time and a lifetime revocation of his driver’s license.
His sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Marion County Circuit Court.