A driver who authorities say had a blood alcohol content three times the states legal limit when he crashed into a car in Salem, killing three teens, told police hed had eight beers before getting behind the wheel, records show.
Juan C. Rodriguez-Palacios initially was adamant with crash investigators that hed consumed two beers after work and used a friends breath analyzer to determine his blood alcohol content was under the .08 percent limit, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Driver held without bail after 3 best friends die
Rodriguez-Palacios, 25, and his passenger were taken to a hospital after the crash, where the drivers blood was drawn and showed a .239% blood alcohol level.
About six hours after the 11:30 p.m. Sunday crash, his blood alcohol level was .112%, the affidavit said. He then admitted to drinking eight beers, the documents said.
The crash near Salem Parkway and Cherry Avenue Northeast killed Trinity Watt, 19, of Salem; Madison Capobianco, 19, of Salem; and Makayla Tryon, 18, of Keizer.
Police said Rodriguez-Palacios drove his Jeep through a red light and crashed into the teens car. He and his passenger, Juan Mendoza, remained at the scene and were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Salem Hospital.
While being interviewed by police, Rodriguez-Palacios didnt express any concern for the other people involved in the crash until he was told the teens died, the affidavit said.
Mendoza, who suffered cuts to his neck and scrapes on his neck, chest and hip, told police he met up with Rodriguez-Palacios at a bar, saw him drink at least one alcoholic drink and said he appeared drunk before driving, the affidavit said.
Mendoza said he was sitting in the back passenger-side seat while Rodriguez-Palacios was speeding and driving recklessly, the affidavit said. Mendoza said he was worried as a passenger and told the driver to slow down or let him out. He confirmed to police that Rodriguez-Palacios went through the red light before the crash.
Two witnesses who were behind the teens white sedan before the crash told police the Jeep appeared to be speeding before the collision. One estimated the Jeep traveling between 45 and 55 mph, and the other said it was around 80 mph, the affidavit said.
Rodriguez-Palacios remained held Tuesday without bail at the Marion County Detention Center. He is accused of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants and third-degree assault.
Rodriguez-Palacios pleaded guilty in 2015 to driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver. He was allowed to enter a DUII diversion program, and the drunken driving charge was dismissed after he completed the program.
He was convicted of the other two charges and sentenced to two years of probation. A Marion County Circuit Court judge also suspended his drivers license for 90 days.
All three of the teens had been students at Roberts High School, an alternative school program with sites in Salem and Keizer, according to Salem-Keizer School District spokeswoman Lillian Govus.
Tryon graduated with a GED during the 2016-17 school year. Watt and Capobianco had previously been enrolled at the schools Chemeketa Community College site. Capobianco was enrolled as a student at Chemeketa Community College through the spring.
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