Former Sweet Home athlete victim in crash

Scott Swanson

A former Sweet Home resident, Rochelle Zamacona, was killed early Sunday morning, March 27, when a suspected drunk driver plowed a vehicle into a homeless camp in downtown Salem.

The driver, Enrique Rodriguez, Jr., 24, was arrested, following an investigation.

Zamacona was an all-league soccer player for Sweet Home as a high-schooler, who, acquaintances said, had fallen on hard times.

According to the Salem Police Department, at approximately 2 a.m. on the morning of March 27, emergency responders from the Salem Police and Fire Departments responded to the scene of a motor vehicle crash into a homeless encampment in the area of Front and Division Streets NE.

Two individuals died at the scene. Four people from the encampment were transported to Salem Health with life-threatening injuries, two of whom later died at the hospital.

In addition to Zamacona, 29, the people killed as a result of the crash were identified as: Jowand Beck, 24; Luke Kagey, 21; and Joe Posada III, 54.

The driver of the involved vehicle, later identified as Rodriguez, was also transported by ambulance.

An investigation by the Salem Police Traffic Team determined that Rodriguez was driving a two-door sports coupe northbound on Front Street, passing Union Street, when the vehicle left the roadway and crashed into an unsheltered encampment, pinning two individuals beneath the car.

The camp was located at the corner where Front Street NE intersects with the Front Street business route known as OR99E.

Two individuals died at the scene. Four people from the encampment were transported to Salem Health with life-threatening injuries, two of whom later died at the hospital. The surviving individuals injured were identified as Derrick Hart, 43, and Savaanah Miller, 18.

Rodriguez, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was also transported for medical treatment.

He was arrested on four counts of first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, third-degree assault and six counts of reckless endangerment and lodged at Marion County Jail.

Police said the exact number of individuals and tents at the encampment was not known.

Officers helped several uninjured campers collect some of their belongings and provided shelter assistance.

Three individuals were taken to a local motel. The City of Salem’s homeless advocacy partners were also contacted in an effort to get the members of the unsheltered community connected to needed resources.

Zamacona graduated from Sweet Home High school 2010, where she was active in sports and in the equestrian program. She played soccer, earning all-league honors as a senior.

She was one of five candidates for the 2009 Sweet Home Rodeo Queen.

Following graduation, Zamacona had numerous brushes with the law as she struggled with what acquaintances described as “mental health issues” and drugs.

“She was lost,” Groves said. “We tried to help her but she didn’t know any more what to do.”

Despite her challenges, Zamacona was able to work as a waitress in Alaska and in Tillamook at various times.

“They loved her,” Groves said. “She did a lot of good things.”

Groves said that, prior to her death, Zamacona had been moving around the state.

“She had only been in Salem a couple of weeks.”

Total
0
Share