Driver who crashed into Oregon homeless camp killing 4, hurting 3 was drunk: prosecutor

Driver crashed into a homeless camp in Salem, Oregon, early Sunday morning

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The man accused of being behind the wheel of a car that ran into a homeless camp in Salem, Oregon, in a crash that killed four early Sunday morning had a blood-alcohol content level more than three times the legal limit, a prosecutor said. 

Three people were also injured, including the driver Enrique Rodriguez Jr., 24, who was taken to the hospital prior to his arrest. He was driving 70 mph prior to the crash and had a blood-alcohol content of 0.26, a prosecutor said during his arraignment Monday.

Accused drunk driver Enrique Rodriguez Jr.

Accused drunk driver Enrique Rodriguez Jr. (Associated Press)

Rodriguez was charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, and reckless endangerment.

Police have identified the four people killed as 24-year-old Jowand Beck, 21-year-old Luke Kagey, 54-year-old Joe Posada III, and 29-year-old Rochelle Zamacona.

The additional two injured who were still hospitalized as of Monday are 43-year-old Derrick Hart and 18-year-old Savannah Miller, according to KPTV.

Police responded to the scene in the capital city around 2 a.m. Two people died at the scene, and two died at the hospital. 

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As COVID-19 took root in the U.S., people on the street were largely left on their own – with many cities halting sweeps of homeless camps following guidance from federal health officials. This led to a situation that spiraled out of control in many places, with frustrated residents calling for action as extreme forms of poverty play out on city streets.

Increasingly in liberal cities across the country – where people living in tents in public spaces have long been tolerated – leaders are removing encampments and pushing other strict measures to address homelessness that would have been unheard of a few years ago.

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Frank, who is experiencing homelessness, sits in his tent in Portland, Oregon, next to the Willamette River on June 5, 2021.

Frank, who is experiencing homelessness, sits in his tent in Portland, Oregon, next to the Willamette River on June 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein, File)

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In nearby Portland, the homeless crisis has grown increasingly visible in recent years. During the area’s 2019 point-in-time count – a yearly census of sorts – an estimated 4,015 people were experiencing homelessness, with half of them "unsheltered" or sleeping outside. Advocates say the numbers have likely significantly increased.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.