SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A young mother and four children were killed in a head-on crash caused, police say, by a reckless driver under the influence of intoxicants.
Lizette Medrano-Perez, 25, and four children — boys 8 and 6 and girls 4 and 2 — died when their Buick Century was hit by a Land Rover driven by Favian R. Garcia.
The three older children were Medrano’s own and the youngest girl was her niece.
The crash happened around 4:40 p.m. Sunday about a mile north of Salem on Hwy 99E near Nevada Street. Investigators said the Land Rover was headed north and was coming around a corner in the road when the crash happened.
All five people died at the scene.
Garcia, 27, sustained minor injuries. Officers arrested him and charged him with five counts of manslaughter I, felony driving while under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving, misdemeanor driving while suspended and outstanding unrelated Marion County Warrants.
He’s expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
KOIN 6 News checked his record and found Garcia has had two previous DUII charges, including one just two months ago.
“To see the sadness in people’s eyes knowing their family members aren’t coming back because somebody made a bad choice is just one of the worst parts about our job,” said OSP Trooper Bob Charpentier.
The Oregon State Police said they’re pouring resources into this investigation to make sure they do a flawless job. Four different accident reconstruction teams are involved to help put together a really clear picture of what exactly happened.
Family and friends are mourning the loss of the young family. Medrano-Perez’s friend Amanda LaFollette sent KOIN the following statement:
She was a beautiful person, I don’t think in the almost year I’ve known her that I’ve seen her angry, or shed a single tear. She worked hard for her children those where her pride and joy, she would do anything for them. She went through some hard times and struggled with worrying about her mother’s health but you wouldn’t notice it because in front of her fears and pain always stood a smile of gold. She loved her family more than life itself and would do anything for them, she always made sure her kids had all their needs and would often times stop what she was doing to be a shoulder for her friends, this truly is one of the hardest and most tragic incidents. She will be truly missed by so many!”