Alcohol a Suspected Factor in Triple Fatal Crash on 99E Near Gervais

Drunken driving is a suspected factor in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 99E near Gervais early Sunday morning that left three people dead.

Oregon State Police officials say the collision occurred when a gray Toyota Corolla, being driven southbound by 21-year-old Epifanio Jose Ruiz, of Beaverton, crossed into the northbound lane and collided head on with a silver Honda Accord, operated by 36-year-old Gabriel Hernandez Ortiz, of Woodburn.

Ruiz was transported via Life Flight helicopter to an area hospital, where he later died. A passenger in his car, Jorge Valencia Cortez, 22, suffered fatal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene, as was the other driver, Ortiz.

A passenger in Ortiz’s vehicle, 26-year-old Omar Jeu Pastor Martinez, of Woodburn, was transported to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Alcohol is being investigated as the contributing factor to the crash.Police say Ruiz’s blood-alcohol level was determined at the hospital to be .24% — three times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in Oregon (.08%).

Highway 99E was impacted for approximately four hours while the OSP Collision Reconstruction Unit investigated the scene.

OSP was assisted by Woodburn Fire Department, Woodburn Ambulance, Marion County Sheriff’s Office and ODOT.

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