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Trucker arrested in S. Calif. in Madras fatal hit-and-run

BERNAL-MENDOZA JOSE MANUEL
Azusa Police Dept.
Jose Manuel Bernal-Mendoza
Volvo trailer pic flipped to show passenger side damage KTVZ
Madras Police Dept.
Volvo semi tractor of the type believed involved in deadly Madras hit-and-run crash, with areas of likely damage circled
Fatal Hwy. 97 crash Madras
Viewer photo
First responders work at scene of fatal hit-and-run pedestrian crash on Hwy. 97 at NE Cypress Street in Madras Tuesday night

(Update: Adding video, comment from Madras resident)

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A 47-year-old truck driver was arrested in Southern California Wednesday on second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and other charges in Tuesday night’s fatal vehicle-pedestrian hit-and-run crash on U.S. Highway 97 in Madras, police said.

A Madras police officer's court filing said the driver told his supervisor he swerved to avoid "a dark, shadowy figure" but did not believe he'd hit anything.

Law enforcement had been searching for a Volvo semi-trailer with likely damage, based on evidence at the scene, in the crash that killed a pedestrian identified Wednesday as Anthony Shadley, 59, of Madras, Detective Sgt. Steve Webb said.

With help from several state and local agencies, officers were able to find the semi involved in the city of Azusa in Los Angeles County, where the driver, identified as Jose Manuel Bernal-Mendoza, was making a scheduled delivery, Webb said.

By the time the truck was found, Madras police had filed an affidavit in support of an arrest warrant for Bernal-Mendoza and an arrest warrant was issued for charges of second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, failure to perform the duties of a driver and reckless driving.

Bernal-Mendoza was arrested by Azusa police and the truck allegedly involved in the crash was seized.

The investigation continues, Webb said, and anyone with information about the crash is urged to call Frontier Dispatch at 541-475-2201.

In a probable cause affidavit to support the $250,000 arrest warrant, Madras Police Officer Brent Schulke said video surveillance footage from Wild Winds Station had helped identify the southbound truck.

Schulke said ODOT confirmed that only two Volvo semi-trucks passed through the southbound weigh scales near Juniper Butte around the time of the crash, and only one was hauling a box trailer and passed that location about 10 minutes after the crash.

ODOT was able to provide a photo of the truck, which appeared to match the surveillance video. ODOT also provided the truck’s Texas license plate, which belonged to 5D Cargo Express Inc. in Laredo, Texas.

A safety supervisor with the company identified a two-man drivers team that included Bernal-Mendoza and gave them an address in Azusa that was the next scheduled stop between 8 a.m. and noon Wednesday. Officers also were told Bernal-Mendoza would have been driving at the time of the crash.

The driver’s supervisor said “Bernal-Mendoa told him he swerved to avoid a dark shadowy figure but did not believe he hit anything,” according to Schulke's affidavit.

Madras police, assisted by the Bend Police Department's traffic team, worked through the night investigating the crash scene on Highway 97 in northern Madras, near Northeast Cypress Street, Webb said.

Based on parts found at the crash scene, they were able to determine the suspect vehicle is a 2018 Volvo VNL series tractor. Also, based on surveillance video under review, it was towing a traditional "van-type" semi trailer.

Items recovered at the scene confirmed the tractor had damage to the passenger side and front and right side, Webb said. The damage included a missing chrome trim moulding piece from the center bumper on the right side, and damage to the right-side hood vent.

Madras police, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies, Oregon State Police, Jefferson County EMS and Jefferson County Fire responded around 7 p.m. to the reported crash.

The highway was closed in both directions in the area of milepost 92, with a detour in place. It reopened early Wednesday.

It was the second serious vehicle-pedestrian crash on the same stretch of road in just over 24 hours. Around 6 p.m. Monday, a 55-year-old man was struck and critically injured when he tried to cross Highway 97 near Northeast Chestnut Street. He was one of three men heading to the warming shelter, police said.

In that case, the driver stopped and has cooperated in the investigation.

NewsChannel 21 spoke with a longtime Madras resident, Daniel Crowley, on Wednesday, who said he's seen an increasing amount of drivers, especially truck drivers, who go faster than the 55 mph speed limit in that area.

"Even though the new rule is to walk with traffic, I'm not going to do that, I'm going to walk against traffic so I can see what’s coming," Crowley said. "Don’t wear black slacks and black coats if you’re going to walk at night. It’s not safe."

Accidents and Crashes / Central Oregon / Crime And Courts / Madras / Top Stories

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Rhea Panela

Rhea Panela is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Rhea here.

Comments

27 Comments

    1. Hit and runs are not ok, sure but did it ever occur to you a giant truck can hit a person and the driver may not have even known they ran over somebody? That happens too

        1. The omission that the “Volvo” was a semi truck seems a rather glaring error on their part. It’s definitely not the class of vehicle the majority of people around here first think of when they hear Volvo. I’m sure that doesn’t help them find witnesses.

        1. Absolutely. The newer trucks are actually really quiet in the cab, and the sound of
          fiberglass breaking is going to be fairly loud, let alone the sound of a large object hitting the hood only a few feet from where the driver was sitting. I guess it’s possible the driver thought he ran over something, but even if that were the case they should have stopped to see what it was and check for damage.

    2. There’s an obvious solution that will never happen. Never build a town along both sides of a major hi-way. If that mistake has already happened, Relocate the hi-way and reconstruct it as a city street that is a PITA for cars and trucks but still passable for them. Perhaps a four way stop at every intersection. Bend did this very early on when they moved 97 out of downtown, now it’s time to move both 97 and 20.

      1. Or people could make sure there isn’t any oncoming traffic before they cross a road…
        Not saying it was the case in this incident but I see people all the time that don’t even look before they try to cross a street, they just assume people will see them and stop.
        It’s kinda like the idiots in the parking lot at WalMart…

      2. Pretty funny that you try to blast me for saying something you deemed stupid…..but then your cake hole opens right back up and you say this. Do you even think before you speak, or do you actually believe the crap you say?

      3. We dont have to punish drivers to increase pedestrian safety, the fact we have stopped trying to find win-win solutions for all modes of travel, is the exact reason oregon roads are a failure for everyone

  1. There is the possibility the truck driver didn’t realize he/she hit anyone. If the speed limit was 55 and not 35 in the area it occurred they would notice for sure, I’d think.The driver may not have even saw the pedestrian if they were wearing dark clothes until the last second. They might not have felt a thing. However if someone was that close to the road I’d think they’d look in their mirror as they passed to see if the person was there. The driver should notice vehicle damage at the next stop.

    The driver could also know what they did and have numerous reasons to not stop in their own mind. Hopefully the driver realizes what happened and contacts law enforcement. If the driver did run then they should be charged with leaving the scene. If the pedestrian caused the accident, well they paid the ultimate price.

    Sad no matter what.

  2. Madras group posted this morning a truck fitting the description with damage expected was found in Burns this morning, in a parking lot, not confirmed as yet. If so, good work police working. together. Local police, Bend accident investigation team, state and county police across the state. lets hope they found them for sure

  3. The guy quoted in the story who stated the speed limit is 55 where this happened obviously doesn’t have a clue. It’s 45 and reduces to 35 about 100 yards away if I remember correctly.

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