A driver who crashed into a homeless encampment in Salem, Oregon, early Sunday, killing four people, has been charged with manslaughter, police said.
The crash unfolded at 2 a.m. Sunday when the driver slammed into the encampment in the area of Front and Division streets, the Salem Police Department said in a news release.
Two people died at the scene, police said. Four people from the encampment were hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, and two later died of their wounds at the hospital. The names of the victims were not released.
According to the preliminary investigation, the vehicle, a two-door sports coupe, was traveling northbound on Front Street Northeast, passing Union Street, when the vehicle “left the roadway and crashed into an unsheltered encampment pinning two individuals beneath the car,” the news release stated.
Police said in a news release later on Sunday that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the crash.
The driver, who was the only person in the vehicle, was also hospitalized.
Police identified the driver as Enrique Rodriguez Jr., 24, and announced Sunday evening he was arrested on six counts of reckless endangerment, four counts of first-degree manslaughter and one count each of second- and third-degree assault.
He was booked into Marion County Jail. It was not immediately clear Monday morning if he had a lawyer.
Police said they did not know how many people or tents are at the encampment impacted in the crash.
After the accident, officers helped move several uninjured campers, with three people moved to local motels, Salem police said.
Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett said in a statement to the New York Times that the encampment was “slated for cleanup this coming Wednesday.”
“There were tent openings virtually onto the state highway,” he said. “This was a sad event with a tragic outcome.”
In nearby Portland, city officials issued an emergency declaration last month banning camping in high-crash areas after a Portland Bureau of Transportation crash report for 2021 found one in three traffic death victims were people experiencing homelessness.