Three fatal crashes cast pall over Portland’s Christmas

INCLUDES 2 INVESTIGATION VIDEOS | UPDATED x3 | Three outer East Portland crashes on Christmas Day; two of them fatal, and another fatal crash the day after, cast a pall over the Holiday season …

In the Hazelwood and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhoods, the Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division Major Crash Team is sent to investigate crashes that killed and injured people – mostly along or near SE 122nd Avenue.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Incredibly, three of the four crashes investigated by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team took place along SE 122nd Avenue. All but one were considered to be hit-and-runs.

UPDATED: Christmas Day, December 25 at 12:19 a.m.
Police search for driver who killed a pedestrian in a Hazelwood hit-and-run crash

The PPB’s Major Crash Team arrives to investigate a fatal hit-and-run only a block north of East Precinct’s headquarters.

Christmas Day didn’t start off well for Portland Police officers charged with investigating vehicular accidents and crashes.

December 25 at 12:19 a.m. an off-duty officer was driving to work at East Precinct at SE 106th Avenue, and stumbled across upon the victim of a pedestrian hit-and-run on SE Stark Street – just a block away from the Precinct.

Not being on duty yet, the officer called 911 and then provided aid to the victim. Although the victim was promptly taken to a local hospital by ambulance, the person was later declared dead.

SE Stark Street is closed at 106th Avenue as officers investigate a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run. Courtesy KPTV FOX 12 Oregon News

“The driver involved in the crash left the scene,” PPB Public Information Manager Mike Benner reported. The PPB’s Major Crash Team was activated and took over the investigation.

SE Stark Street was closed at that intersection until the morning hours as the Bureau’s Crash Team investigators, and Criminalists from the PPB’s Forensic Evidence Division, processed the scene and collected evidence.

This image captured from a nearby surveillance camera isn’t clear, but it does give crash investigators the information that the hit-and-run driver was in a maroon Dodge Ram pickup truck. Provided by Portland Police

At a press conference on December 27, Benner told reporters that investigators believe that the suspect who fled the scene was driving a late 2000s or mid-2010 maroon Dodge Ram pickup truck with a crew cab (4 full size doors). The vehicle suffered a broken driver’s side headlight assembly and damage to the front driver’s side corner from the crash. See attached photos.

Also, Benner added that a suspected drunk driver had driven into the crash investigation scene and was arrested – but the name of that person has not yet been released.

UPDATE

On January 2, 2024, the PPB revealed that individual killed in this hit-and-run crash has been identified as 63-year-old David Wayne Becker, of Portland. No additional information was provided other than that this investigation is ongoing.

2nd Update: January 31, 2024

On Wednesday, January 31, 2024, members of the U.S. Marshals Service arrested 37-year-old Jared L. Landry, in Vancouver, Washington, on a warrant stemming from this case.

More than two weeks earlier, on Friday, January 12, 2024, a Multnomah County Grand Jury returned a four-count indictment against Landry for the following charges: Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver Resulting in Death, Attempt to Elude Police, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, and Reckless Driving.

The suspect vehicle, a red Dodge Ram, was seized from an apartment complex in Vancouver in December.

Landry is currently lodged in the Clark County Jail and awaiting extradition to Oregon.

If you have information about that truck, or its driver, contact crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov, attention Traffic Investigations Unit, and reference Case No. 23-331227.

Christmas evening, December 25 at 5:03 p.m.
One dies in two-car Powellhurst-Gilbert hit-and-run crash

On Christmas evening, southbound SE 122nd Avenue is closed just south of Powell Boulevard while investigators look into a grinding two-vehicle crash.

At 5:03 p.m. on Christmas evening PPB East Precinct were sent to investigate a vehicle crash on SE 122nd Avenue just south of Powell Boulevard.

Arriving officers first spotted a Honda Civic, facing northbound on SE 122nd Avenue in the left-hand turn lane, with its front end torn off.

It looks as if the front end of this Honda Civic was almost totally ripped off during the collision.

Witnesses told officers (and reporters) that a Toyota Camry, likely involved in the crash, had careened through the Powell Villa Shopping Center parking lot, grazing the Wild Brewz Coffee Co. drive-through coffee shop.

The Toyota continued, skidding around in the parking lot heading east, and ending up near the front of the AutoZone Auto Parts store.

Here’s a video of this crash scene as investigators look for evidence in the area:

Again, the PPB’s Major Crash Team was activated to begin an investigation. In addition to their FARO Crash Reconstruction System, the investigators also documented the large crash-and-crime scene using a drone.

Officers located this Toyota Camry near the back of the Powell Villa Shopping Center parking lot.

Well into the night, SE 122nd Avenue was blocked in the area as investigators processed the scene and collected evidence.

Official reports were vague about the number of people injured in the crash, but PPB Public Information Manager Mike Benner did later reveal that one person died as a result of this crash.

Suspected drunks drive into crash scene
Benner also noted that two suspected drunk drivers drove into the crash investigation scene that evening.

Booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center were 53-year-old Michelle Locke Hawksley (at 7:51 p.m.) and 19-year-old Jewel Munoz (at 11:26 p.m.) – both on charges of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants and Reckless Driving. Both Hawksley and Munoz were released from the MCDC the next morning. Release Reason: Released on Own Recognizance.

Anyone with information on this crash, who has not yet spoken to police is asked to the Traffic Investigations Unit via email at crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov and reference Case No. 23-331614.

Christmas crash, outside outer East Portland

In fact, there was only one fatal traffic accident on Christmas Day in Portland that was not in outer East Portland. That one, which took place in the Hillsdale neighborhood of Southwest Portland at SE Barbur Boulevard and Taylors Ferry Road.

The male adult driver suffered critical injuries after smashing into a tree; and died of his injuries. But East Portland had one more bad traffic accident before Christmas was over.

UPDATED: Christmas evening, at 5:05 p.m.
Pedestrian stuck, seriously injured, in Hazelwood

Officers are called here – to SE 122nd Avenue and Ash Street – just after sunset on Christmas, when a pedestrian was struck and seriously injured by a vehicle.

At 5:05 p.m. – just two minutes after, and 1.7 miles north, of the smashup at SE 122nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard – another Christmas evening accident along the same street was reported.

In this incident, officers were sent to an injury accident on SE 122nd Avenue at Ash Street, across from the Burnside TriMet Park-and-Ride lot. “This one involved a vehicle striking a pedestrian,” Public Information Officer Sergeant Kevin Allen told East Portland News.

PPB Traffic Division officers search for evidence at the crash scene.

“In this incident, a 73-year-old male pedestrian was taken to a local hospital with serious traumatic injuries,” reported Sergeant Allen. “At this point it’s not clear who had the right of way; and no citations or arrests are mentioned in the report.”

UPDATE:

On January 6, 2024, officials revealed that 73-year-old Stewart Poitra, of Portland, died in in the hospital as a result of this crash on January 2.

Investigators learned that Poitra ran out into the roadway without warning from the west side as a 2015 Kia Forte approached northbound on SE 122nd Avenue. The driver attempted to brake but was unable to stop in time. No citations issued or crimes were charged.

Anyone with information on this crash, who has not yet spoken to police is asked to the Traffic Investigations Unit via email at crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov and reference Case No. 23-331615.

December 26 at 5:11 p.m.
Hazelwood hit-and-run crash kills pedestrian

Again, along SE 122nd Avenue, PPB Major Crash Team investigators this time look into a fatal pedestrian struck incident, just south of Madison Street.

The day after Christmas, on December 26,  PPB East Precinct officers at 5:11 p.m. responded to another “Accident-Injury” call – again involving a pedestrian hit by a vehicle in the 1500 block of SE 122nd Avenue – north of Market Street, almost in front of Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) Mill Park Station #7.

The victim lay in the northbound lanes of the road, not far from a marked and signalized crosswalk.

After providing first aid to the victim, mere moments after having been twice struck by vehicles, PF&R Paramedic/Firefighters talk with Major Crash Team investigators outside Mill Park Station #7.

PF&R Paramedic/Firefighters grabbed their life-saving gear and were at the victim’s side almost immediately after the pedestrian was struck, but soon determined that the victim had not survived.

See PPB Major Crash Team investigators gather evidence after this fatal crash in this video:

Neighbors near the crime scene told East Portland News, “[The victim] was hit so hard, the person flew clear across the street – and then the driver took off.” None of the witnesses could recall the type of vehicle involved in this crime.

PPB officials later confirmed that the vehicle that struck the pedestrian fled the scene, and also that a second vehicle had also subsequently struck the victim lying in the street – and the driver of that vehicle did remain at the scene.

Yet again, the PPB’s Major Crash Team responded to continue the investigation.

Using their FARO Crash Reconstruction System, a member of the PPB’s Major Crash Team digitally documents the scene.

SE 122nd Avenue remained closed well into the night as investigators gathered evidence in this case.

Anyone who believes they have information about this incident is asked to contact the Traffic Investigations Unit at crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov and reference Case No. 23-332333.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

During this Christmas Holiday season, it seems that the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero program objectives have retreated further out of reach.

The period around Christmas 2023 was one of the deadliest times for Portland traffic crashes in recent memory. From December 24 at 1:01a.m. to December 26 at 5:10p.m., there were six (6) traffic fatalities. One was as an auto driver, two were auto passengers, one was a bicyclist (hit and run), and two were pedestrians. Four of the crashes were in East Precinct (including three of the crashes on Southeast 122nd Avenue).

So far, as the end of 2023 draws near, there have been 73 traffic-related deaths investigations in the City of Portland.

Please drive safely, and sober, this New Year’s Eve weekend!

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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