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State police eye alcohol in deadly crash

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DEPOE BAY — State troopers are exploring the fatal role intoxication may have played in a May 19 two-car crash here that left one driver dead and another critically injured.

Police say the head-on accident happened Wednesday night at the south end of town on Hwy. 101 after a northbound Ford F350 truck operated by Jesus Perez, 25, of Salem, crossed into the southbound lane and collided with a Kia Spectra driven by George Linden III, 46, of Toledo.

Though help was just minutes away from firefighters and ambulance personnel who spilled from the Depoe Bay Fire Station at 11:24 p.m., first responders found both men pinned in their mangled vehicles with Linden dead and Perez critically injured. With wreckage splayed across both lanes of the highway, DBFD battalion chief Tom Jackson called for backup from Newport Fire Dept. and an extra ambulance and crew from PacWest Ambulance.

Jackson said the only survivor, Perez, was transported to an emergency landing zone at Government Point State Park where the driver was airlifted by helicopter and flown to a Salem hospital. Meanwhile, the highway was closed for hours as state troopers gathered evidence.

“Alcohol is being investigated as a possible contributing factor, definitely,” reported Oregon State Police Lt. Brian Tucker, commander of the Newport OSP detachment whose troopers worked 24 hours straight to buttress a potential criminal case.

Tucker, with a dozen years of patrol experience, said dangerous driving seems to be on the upswing at the Oregon coast.

“Statistically I couldn’t say, but anecdotally it appears to be growing with an increase in traffic,” he observed.

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