Alleged drunk driver tragically ends night of fun for Salem single mom and friend in outer East Portland

Find out why two young ladies are in the hospital – one just clinging to life – even though they did the “right thing” by calling for a taxi instead of driving, after their evening of musical reverie …

This is the scene where one pedestrian was pinned under a car, driven by an allegedly drunk driver, while her friend was thrown as far as 40 feet, after both were struck by the careening vehicle.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At the end of their “girl’s night out” – just before midnight on February 19 – two young ladies who had been enjoying an evening of karaoke at Fortune Star Food and Lounge made a very good, mature decision. Instead risking driving after an evening of partying, they called for a taxicab to pick them up at the establishment, located on SE Division Street near SE 158th Avenue.

Customers who revisited the scene the following day, when we were investigating this incident, confirmed that two young ladies were enjoying the karaoke show before they left the establishment.

Marks left by Portland Police Bureau Major Crash Team accident investigators tell the story about what happened in an instant, early Sunday morning – an event that will change three lives, forever. Note that no skid marks are visible; it doesn’t appear as if the driver hit the brakes.

“It wasn’t a loud crash, just kind of a thud,” said witness Ryan Hillcrest. “People came out and first saw a woman, almost under a car, in [Fortune Star’s] parking lot.”

Then, they looked up, and about 40 feet to northwest, they saw a car smashed into a utility pole, Hillcrest said.

“Almost right away, police came,” Hillcrest continued. “And then, six or seven rescue people were trying to free the woman caught under the car. A couple paramedics swept up the other woman on a gurney, put her in an ambulance, and they were gone, off to the hospital.”

After caroming off the corner of Montego’s Tavern, the out-of-control car smashed into the two women.

Damaged tavern already closed for the night
The owner of Montego’s Tavern drove up and walked to the front of the building. She looked at the northeast corner of the building and shook her head. “I’m surprised to see how much damage there is. The concrete facing is cracked, and the side of the building is pushed out. I’m surprised we still have electricity and telephones because of such damage.”

She said they’d closed at midnight, and she was on her way home by 12:15 p.m. – but got a call just as she was arriving home, telling her about the accident.

The car, with an allegedly drunk driver at the wheel, was finally stopped hard by this utility pole.

Police confirm incident details
“Approximately 12:30 a.m., on February 20, the driver of a vehicle traveling Eastbound on Division at a high rate of speed lost control of the vehicle,” stated Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat. “The car hit two women who were outside an establishment on SE Division Street. The vehicle also hit a telephone pole and the building that were near both women.”

The Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team was called to the scene to investigate, Wheat said. “The pedestrian victims are identified as 21-year-old Rachel Barber, of southeast Salem, and 21-year-old Marie Drennan.”

Both victims were taken to Oregon Health & Science University. A family spokesman for Barber’s family, Jim Cook, has told the media that she, a single mother of two children, remains in critical condition. Drennan is said to be in fair condition.

Police have charged this man, 24-year-old Dallas L. Lawrence, of driving under the influence of intoxicants when allegedly his car mowed down two young ladies waiting for a cab ride home. MCDC photo

“The driver of the vehicle has been identified as 24-year-old Dallas L. Lawrence,” Wheat reported. “He was arrested at the scene, and charged with two counts of Assault in the Second Degree (Class B Felonies, each requiring a $250,000 bond), one count of DUII (Alcohol), and one count of Reckless Driving.”

At publication date, Lawrence remained in custody in the Multnomah County Detention Center.

A donation fund has been established in Rachel Barber’s name at US Bank – contributions can be made at any branch location.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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