SALEM, OR (The Oregonian) – Three teens were killed in Salem on Sunday after their car was hit by a Jeep driver who police say sped through a red light while driving with blood alcohol content three times the legal drinking limit.
The crash around 11:30 p.m. near Salem Parkway and Cherry Avenue Northeast killed Trinity Watt, 19, of Salem; Madison Capobianco, 19, of Salem; and Makayla Tryon, 18, of Keizer. The driver of the Jeep, Juan C. Rodriguez Palacios, remained at the scene with his passenger and both were later taken to a hospital.
Rodriguez Palacios’s blood alcohol content was determined to be .239 percent, Salem police said. Rodriguez Palacios, 25, of Salem was later arrested and booked into the Marion County Correctional Facility on accusations of first-degree manslaughter, driving under the influence, third-degree assault, reckless endangering and reckless driving.
The Jeep Wrangler was heading northeast on Salem Parkway when it crashed into the southeast-bound Toyota Camry, police said. The three women in the Toyota died at the scene.
Police haven’t released any details on the injuries Rodriguez Palacios and his passenger sustained. No charges have been announced by police for the passenger.
All three of the teens have 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 2016-2017 school year. Watt and Capobianco had previously been enrolled at the school’s Chemeketa Community College site. Capobianco was enrolled as a student at Chemeketa Community College through the spring.
Rodriguez Palacios was involved in another drunken driving incident in June 2015. According to court records, he was driving three people home in Salem when he crashed into a trailer that was being towed. His blood alcohol content was .145 percent at the time.
Rodriguez Palacios pleaded guilty later that year to driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and failure to perform the duties of a driver. He was allowed to enter a DUI 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 driver’s license for 90 days.