Date: October 15, 2009
Location: 10138 Donald Road NE, Donald, Oregon
Names: Cassandra Westgate, James Cothern, Shawn Stearns
According to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office press release, an Aurora man was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants and two counts of assault October 15, 2009, after an early-morning car crash injured his two passengers.
At 5:53 AM, Marion County Sheriff’s deputies responded to reports of a crash at 10138 Donald Road NE in Donald, Oregon. They found an overturned Ford Explorer, and determined that the driver, Shawn Stearns, 20, of Aurora, was intoxicated.
Stearns was not hurt, but one of his passengers, Cassandra Westgate, 19, of Woodburn, was seriously injured in the crash, and was transported by Life Flight to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. The other passenger, James Cothern, 20, also of Woodburn, was taken to Salem Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Stearns, who was not injured, was taken to Marion County Jail. By October 16, Westgate had improved and was in good condition at the hospital.
We are saddened anytime we hear of an impaired driver causing a crash, but in this case we were relieved and grateful to learn that Westgate was recovering, and that there were no other serious injuries. We send our warmest wishes to Westgate and Cothern, and wish them all the best in the future.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are up to 36 deaths and 700 injuries every day in the U.S. due to motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. The CDC reports that in 2006, 13,470 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. This comes to almost one-third of all U.S. traffic deaths. And in 2007, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence – but this is less than 1% of persons who admit to driving impaired each year. Male drivers and young people are especially likely to be involved.
It is important to understand what to do after you’ve been involved in a crash where alcohol is a factor. 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. But when a drunk driver is involved, the law becomes complicated, and you should talk with an experienced Oregon injury attorney. Please contact us if we can help.