A Eugene man died and a Corvallis man has been charged with manslaughter and DUII after a head-on crash just before 7 a.m. Thursday on Highway 20, near Scenic Drive in North Albany.
Gabriel Ruiz Lopez, 37, of Eugene, was reportedly driving west on Highway 20 in a 1993 Ford Escort Wagon when he hit head-on with a 1995 Acura Integra driven by Damon Selves, 32, of Corvallis, heading east. Lopez was extracted from his vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Selves was taken to Good Samaritan Regional Hospital in Corvallis with minor injuries. Selves was arrested and charged with manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants (drugs) and reckless driving, according to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.
Witnesses told deputies on scene that Selves “traveled into the westbound lane and tried to turn back into his lane,” according to a BCSO release. Lopez tried to avoid Selves, according to witness statements, but the vehicles collided head on and came to a rest in the middle of Highway 20.
“Damon Selves was not wearing a safety belt and airbags were deployed in the Acura Integra,” Sheriff’s deputies wrote in the release. “Gabriel Ruiz Lopez was wearing a safety belt and the Ford Escort was not equipped with airbags.”
The Benton County Multi-Agency Collision Investigation Team was activated and investigated the scene. Firefighters and EMTs with the Albany Fire Department and the Oregon Department of Transportation assisted at the scene. Highway 20 was closed for about 2.5 hours Thursday morning.
The Thursday crash occurred four months after Corvallis resident Boyd Turner, 48, died following a two-car crash on April 26 on Highway 20 between Rainwater Lane and Scenic Drive. Nearby residents and those who witnessed the April accident said that cars frequently travel much faster than the 45 mph speed limit posted in the area. Investigators of the April crash said that speed was not believed to be a factor.
Kyle Odegard of the Albany Democrat-Herald contributed to this report.