Salem officer stops rolling van from entering Market Street traffic

Article author: 
Dennis Thompson Jr.
Article publisher: 
Statesman Journal
Article date: 
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Article category: 
Article Body: 

A Salem police officer stopped a moving vehicle from crashing into Market Street traffic Monday evening, jumping into the rolling minivan after it had been abandoned by a fleeing suspect.

Officer Erik Hernandez stopped the 1995 Ford Windstar van just before it entered traffic at the intersection of Market and 32nd Place NE, while two other officers caught suspect Efren Avalos-Villa in a nearby parking lot, Salem police Lt. Jim Aguilar said.

The incident began around 6:25 p.m. Monday when a motorist saw the Windstar van rear-end a car that was waiting at a stoplight at the intersection of Hawthorne Avenue NE and D Street NE, Aguilar said.

The van's driver backed up, turned around and fled south on Hawthorne. The motorist who witnessed the hit-and-run followed the van through town while calling police on his cell phone to report the crash.

Salem officers caught up with the van on Market Street. The driver attempted to elude police, leading them on a low-speed chase through a residential neighborhood.

The van's driver ultimately jumped out of the van on 32nd Avenue NE next to the Red Lion Inn and tried to flee on foot. The van was still in gear and rolling, so Hernandez scrambled to jump in and stop it.

"He was stopped, getting ready to pursue the guy on foot, when he saw that the van was still rolling" at slow speed toward Market Street, Aguilar said. Hernandez ran after the van, caught up to it and jumped in.

While Hernandez stopped the car, other officers caught and arrested Avalos-Villa in the Red Lion Inn's parking lot.

Avalos-Villa, 32, of Salem is charged with felony attempt to elude, reckless endangering, giving false information to police and reckless driving, Aguilar said. He remains in custody at Marion County Jail.

Salem police were unable to locate the vehicle that Avalos-Villa rear-ended on Hawthorne Avenue, Aguilar said. The vehicle's driver is urged to contact police at (503) 588-6123.


Not included in the Statesman article:

According to Marion County jail roster documents, Avalos-Villa is in custody at Marion County jail and is under an INS ICE hold at this time with no bail set.