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Four people were killed at a homeless encampment after an alleged drunk driver ran his sports coupe into tents.

Three others were injured after the 24-year-old’s vehicle spun into the Salem, Oregon camp early on Sunday morning.

Driver Enrique Rodriguez Jr has been charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter, second and third-degree assault and six counts of reckless endangerment. 

Salemites Carl Rhymes (left), Enoch Gerber (centre) and Mike Wade (right) pray for the victims

Salemites Carl Rhymes (left), Enoch Gerber (centre) and Mike Wade (right) pray for the victims

Salemites Carl Rhymes (left), Enoch Gerber (centre) and Mike Wade (right) pray for the victims

Debris was thrown across the 300-strong encampment after the crash early Sunday morning

Debris was thrown across the 300-strong encampment after the crash early Sunday morning

Debris was thrown across the 300-strong encampment after the crash early Sunday morning

Salem authorities said the local police traffic team believes “alcohol may have been a contributing factor” in the crash.

Eyewitness Nathan Rose told the Salem Statesman Journal that he and his girlfriend were in their tent when they heard two loud thuds. The car just missed their tent, he added said.

Rose also said he saw some of his friends pinned under the car and called 911. 

He said he helped pull one person from under the car but witnesses were unable to help the others.

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

Police said in a statement Sunday afternoon that the driver was the only occupant of the two-door sports coupe.

The living space by Front Street, Salem was left in tatters by the accident, which killed four

The living space by Front Street, Salem was left in tatters by the accident, which killed four

The living space by Front Street, Salem was left in tatters by the accident, which killed four

The crash happened at about 2am Sunday near a new men´s shelter, which has beds for about 300 people and a program that offers emergency housing assistance for the homeless.

The camp is a small triangle of trees and grass close to the Willamette River.

Two people who were at the encampment died at the scene. 

Four others were taken to Salem Health with with life-threatening injuries and two died at the hospital.  

The driver was also taken to the hospital.

Officials have not released the victims´ names or the conditions of those who remain hospitalized.

It wasn´t immediately clear whether Rodriguez had retained an attorney. 

Jimmy Jones, executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, said homeless people spend much of their day trying to find a safe place to sleep and rest, “but events like this remind us that there is no safe space.”

The crash comes after Washington, DC police arrested a man earlier this month who is suspected of stalking and shooting homeless people asleep on the streets of New York City and the nation’s capital.

“No one deserves to have to live in unsheltered conditions and they damn sure do not deserve to die in them,” Jones said. 

“Tragedies like this will continue until this nation makes a serious commitment to the idea that housing is a human right, and that everyone deserves a warm, safe and dry place where they can live with dignity.”

More than 1,000 people sleep outside in the Salem area on any given night, the newspaper reported. The city has a population of over 175,000, according to the 2020 U.S. census.

Mike Wade came to the camp after hearing one of his close friends had died. 

He helped others in the camp salvage their belongings and prayed for the victims.

“It gets me weaker every day hearing about us die one by one,” Wade said. 

“My friends are dead and I don´t know what to say.”

Source: Daily Mail

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