Driver crashes into Oregon homeless camp, killing four

Salem, Oregon (AP) —A driver crashed into a homeless camp in Salem at midnight, killing four and injuring three, including the driver, Salem police said Sunday.

Nathan Rose Salem Statesman Journal He and his girlfriend were in their tent when they heard two loud noises. The car just missed their tent, Rose said.

Mr Rose said he saw some of his friends fixed under the car and calling 911. He helped pull one from under the car, but said witnesses couldn’t help the other.

“From there, it was just a mess,” Rose told the newspaper.

The crash occurred around 2 am on Sunday near a new men’s shelter that could accommodate about 300 people and a program that provided emergency housing assistance and other services for the homeless.

The camp is a small triangle of trees and grass in the area northeast of Front Street and Division Street, not far from the Willamette River.

Two people in the camp died at the scene. The other four were taken to Salem Health for life-threatening injuries, and two died in the hospital. The driver was also taken to the hospital.

Jimmy Jones, executive director of the Mid Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, said homeless people spend most of their day looking for a safe place to sleep and rest.

“No one deserves to live unprotected, and I’m sure they don’t deserve to die among them,” Jones said. “Tragedy like this continues until the country takes seriously the idea that housing is a human right and deserves a warm, safe and dry place where everyone can live with dignity.”

According to the newspaper, more than 1,000 people sleep outside every night in the Salem district. According to the 2020 US Census, the city has a population of over 175,000.

Mike Wade came to the camp after hearing that one of his close friends had died. He helped others in the camp save their belongings and prayed for the victims.

“Every day I get weaker when I hear that we die one by one,” Wade said. “My friend is dead and I don’t know what to say.”

Authorities have not disclosed the name of the person involved, the condition of the person in the hospital, or the cause of the crash.