Drunk Driving Car Accident on Broadway Bridge Kills One

Date: December 29, 2010
Location: Portland, OR
Names: Ashley Dettra, Andres Guillermo Escobedo

Ashley Dettra, age 20 of Hillsboro, was ejected from the SUV she was riding in on the morning of December 26, 2010 and died at the scene.  She was engaged to the driver of the vehicle at the time of her death, and her fiance was driving under the influence of alcohol.

According to updated reports by The Oregonian and court documents, Andres Guillermo Escobedo, age 20 of Hillsboro, was the vehicle’s driver and had a blood alcohol level of .18 percent, more than double the legal limit, at the time of the accident. He was arraigned this week on charges of first-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault and driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Police said that Escobedo was driving west on Portland’s Broadway Bridge at around 5:30am and could not negotiate the turn onto the NW Lovejoy ramp. Escobedo had reportedly told officers that he was going “a little fast and started to fishtail and hit the guardrail.” The vehicle straddled the guardrail and kept moving until it came to a stop about halfway down the Lovejoy ramp.

In a probable cause affidavit filed in court, Escobedo’s father reportedly told police that he had purchased the white Chevy Blazer a few weeks ago for his son. The father said he had seen his son the night before the crash and warned him against getting behind the wheel. Manuel Escobedo told police “I told my son he should not drive. He should not drive. He should not drive.”

Escobedo’s sister, age 17, was a back seat passenger and was taken to OHSU Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Being charged with first-degree manslaughter, Escobedo is accused of having “unlawfully and recklessly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, caused the death of another human being.” He is due back in court on January 5.

Our condolences go out to the family of Ashley Dettra. Another driver charged with drunk driving, another tragedy.

In the wake of a tragedy like this, each person must deal with it in whatever way works best for them. We would never try to talk someone into taking legal action. It is an individual decision that can only be made by the family. When a drunk driver causes an injury accident in Oregon, there is a possibility of suing the person or bar who served the alcohol. This must be done correctly, and quickly. There are strict time limits for filing a lawsuit in Oregon, and where alcohol is involved, the limits get even stricter. A Dram Shop Notice must be received by the server within 180 days of the incident, pursuant to ORS 471.565.

Why sue a bar for serving a person alcohol? Well, the bar must have done something. Bars are regulated strictly by the OLCC, and if they serve to minors, or serve to a person who was visibly intoxicated, they have violated regulations and they should be held responsible for that. But the rules only work if the bartenders are well-trained and supported. If anyone is at fault, it’s not going to be the clerks and bartenders – it’s going to be the owner. If an investigation finds that the owner of the bar did not train the bartenders properly, hired the cheapest people and then underpaid them, routinely told the bartenders to serve as much as possible to increase profits, faked bartender’s OLCC licensing tests, and routinely served minors, then a lawsuit could prevent another similar accident in the future. If there were honest, well-trained, hardworking bartenders and clerks who made a single honest mistake, then a lawsuit would do no good. But, the family at least gets to rest easy knowing that they investigated, and found out the truth of the matter.

We encourage people to educate themselves on the law of drunk driving in Oregon, and we provide free information to help you settle your lawsuit without an attorney. But when a drunk driver is involved, the law becomes very tricky, and you should contact an experienced Oregon personal injury attorney.