A downed power pole that the driver struck before the deadly crash. (KEIZERTIMES/Joey Cappelletti)
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A Jan. 22 crash in Keizer has left one woman dead and a man paralyzed after an alleged drunk driver drove his pick-up truck through the side of a house.
The driver, who police identified as Andrew Modine, 41, of Keizer, has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol three times in the past. At the time of the crash, he was serving a five-year probation for an incident that had led to the death of his brother.
According to a Keizer police probable cause statement, Keizer police, fire and medics arrived at a home at 5695 Trail Avenue at approximately 7:40 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 22. A caller who had reported the incident said that a Gray Dodge pick-up truck had driven through the side of the house.
A witness later told officers that Modine had been stopped at a traffic light at Lockhaven Drive North and River Road North for three full cycles before the truck “took off rapidly.” The truck, according to the witness, swerved over a curb and sidewalk before disappearing over a hill.
Following this, Modine’s truck is alleged to have “struck and sheared off a power pole,” located at the corner of Lockhaven Drive and Trail Avenue Northeast before veering into the side of the house.
Keizer Police Officer Jorge Miranda reported upon arrival that the vehicle was still in gear and Modine was revving the engine “in what appeared to be an attempt to drive further into the house.” A neighbor, according to Miranda, said that there were two residents inside the room the vehicle was in.
In a statement following the incident, the neighbor reported that when she initially approached the crash, the driver was “singing, and headbanging with his music blaring.”
Miranda wrote that once the vehicle was off, officers smelt an “overwhelming odor of alcohol.” A blood draw done later at Salem Hospital showed that Modine had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to the probable cause statement.
Firefighters were able to extract one of the house’s residents, 63-year-old George Heitz, and transport him to Salem Hospital, according to Miranda’s report. Miranda wrote that he later learned that Heitz was paralyzed from the waist down from injuries sustained from the crash.
The second resident in the house, 67-year-old Moira Hughes, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Modine has since been charged with first-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, driving under the influence of intoxicants, driving while criminally suspended, second-degree criminal mischief and a probation violation.
At the time of the crash, Modine was on probation for a previous DUII and his license was suspended. Modine has three previous DUII convictions.
In July of 2016, the Keizer Police Department arrested Modine in Bend after a ten-month investigation stemming from the death of his brother, Thomas Modine. According to a press release from Keizer police at the time, Thomas had been found unconscious in the middle of Venture Avenue North in Keizer on Sept. 5, 2015.
An ensuing investigation revealed that Andrew and Thomas had been driving to Thomas’s house in a 1950 Chevrolet pickup when Thomas, who was in the passenger seat, fell out of the car during a turn. Andrew continued driving and police later found Thomas lying unconscious in the road with “serious injuries.” Thomas later died from the injuries sustained in the incident.
Andrew Modine was later charged with criminally negligent homicide, failure to perform duties of driver to injured persons and driving under the influence of intoxicants. Modine entered a guilty plea and the criminally negligent homicide charge was dropped. In April of 2017, he was sentenced to five years probation and his license was suspended until April 19, 2022.
Modine, whose probation stipulated that any violations could lead to 40 months in jail, admitted a little over a year later to a probation officer that he had smoked marijuana and drank alcohol at a family event. A judge ordered Modine to pay a $25 probation violation fee and put him on a zero tolerance probation. He served no time.
Modine is now being lodged at Marion County Correctional Facility and was denied bail. He has an arraignment hearing on Jan. 31.
News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.