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Madras man jailed on manslaughter, DUII charges in Hwy. 361 head-on crash that killed Metolius woman

A fatal two-vehicle head-on crash closed Highway 361 (the Culver Highway) for 5 hours Monday
Jefferson County Sheriff's Office
A fatal two-vehicle head-on crash closed Highway 361 (the Culver Highway) for 5 hours Monday

(Update: Oregon State Police report driver's arrest, charges)

MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A 36-year-old Madras man was arrested Tuesday after his release from St. Charles Bend on manslaughter, DUII and other charges in a fatal head-on crash on Highway 361 Monday that killed a Metolius woman.

Troopers and emergency personnel responded around 10:30 a.m. Monday to the reported crash on the highway, also known as the Culver Highway, near milepost 3, OSP said.

A preliminary investigation found that Sergio Suarez-Sanchez was driving a black Chevy Tahoe heading south on the highway when he crossed into the northbound lanes and his SUV collided head-on with a gray Ram 3500 driven by a 60-year-old Metolius man, troopers said.

The passenger in the Ram pickup, Annamarie Wallace, 56, of Metolius, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at St. Charles Madras, where the two injured drivers also were taken. Suarez-Sanchez was later flown by Air Link helicopter to St. Charles Bend for further treatment, troopers said.

The Metolius man was treated and released, St. Charles Public Information Officer Lisa Goodman said.

Troopers said in a log entry that open containers of alcohol were found at the crash scene, and that OSP obtained a search warrant for Suarez-Sanchez's blood alcohol content. He had been on parole out of Jefferson County with a requirement not to consume alcohol, troopers said.

Prince’s Towing towed both vehicles to the OSP evidence yard in Madras.

The highway was closed for about five hours for crash reconstruction efforts.

The crash occurred between Colfax Lane and Bear Drive, around milepost 2.5 two miles south of Madras, Jefferson County Sheriff Marc Heckathorn said Monday. Sheriff’s deputies, Madras Police, Jefferson County Fire and Jefferson County EMS responded to the scene. ODOT established a detour during the closure, which ended around 3 p.m.

Suarez-Sanchez was lodged in the Jefferson County Jail on charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, third-degree assault (DUII), DUII-alcohol, reckless driving, reckless endangering and second-degree criminal mischief.

He was arraigned Wednesday on a five-count initial formal charges document -- first- and second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault, DUII and second-degree criminal mischief. Circuit Judge Wade Whiting set bail at $500,000 and scheduled arraignment in a week on an expected formal grand jury indictment.

(First-degree manslaughter is defined as "circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life," while the second-degree charge is defined as to "unlawfully and recklessly cause the death" of someone.)

In a probable-cause affidavit for the arrest of Suarez-Sanchez, Senior Trooper Jason Hansen said the glove box of his SUV had broken open in the crash "and an empty bottle of vodka was in plain view."

A resident along Culver Highway told a sheriff's deputy he saw the Tahoe cross the center line and the pickup driver swerved to avoid the SUV, and the Tahoe corrected, causing them to crash head-on.

Suarez-Sanchez was found to have a blood-alcohol count of .096; the legal limit is .08.

Court records show Suarez-Sanchez pleaded guilty in 2018 to first-degree aggravated animal abuse and coercion, and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years probation.

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes

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