Driver barrels into Stark St. apartments

See why officials say the driver in this outer East Portland fatal wreck apparently didn’t notice that the road had ended …

Firefighters are called to a “collapsed building” call in the Hazelwood neighborhood, only to find it is a fatal car wreck.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Residents of the Courtyard on Stark Apartments, at 13405 SE Stark Street, thought “the big one” had shaken the earth, in the wee hours of October 22.

At 2:01 a.m. that Sunday morning, a resident called the 9-1-1 Center reporting that a corner of an apartment building had collapsed on cars – perhaps one of them occupied – below it.

The Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Major Crash Team responds to the site to begin an investigation.

But it wasn’t a temblor that rocked the apartments; it was a 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRO that had smashed hard into the structure, bringing Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) and Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers to the location.

After clearing away some of the debris, PF&R firefighters found a deceased man in the driver’s seat of the Tacoma truck who, based on initial information, appeared to have died as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

After clearing away some of the rubble, firefighters locate the deceased driver at the wheel of his pickup truck.

“The driver of the vehicle had crashed into the building, causing significant damage to it,” said PPB Public Information Officer Sergeant Chris Burley.

The Bureau’s Major Crash Team responded to take over the investigation.

“Preliminary information suggests prior to the crash, the driver of the Tacoma was driving north on SE 135th Avenue at a high rate of speed, failed to turn either east or west on SE Stark Street, sped up the driveway, and crashed into the building,” Burley said.

The following day, the result of the crash is still evident.

Fortunately, the section of the building blown apart by the crash was an unoccupied office attached to the apartment complex; none of the residents were injured or displaced.

“Based on information learned in the investigation, officers believe speed and intoxication were factors in this crash,” Burley later said.

The next day Burley revealed that it was 21-year-old Anthony Reyes of Portland who had died in the smashup.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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