A SUV crashed into a power pole in Deschutes River Woods on Tuesday and two men inside fled the scene, triggering a Christmas Eve power outage of several hours for nearly 1,300 residents and an extensive search that led to the arrest of a suspected illegal immigrant, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.
Deputies were dispatched around 12:15 p.m. to the reported crash at River Woods Drive and Turquoise Road in the rural subdivision south of bend, said Sgt. Ty Rupert. As they responded, dispatchers advised that two men were seen running from the vehicle, later identified as a 1997 GMC Yukon driven by Jacinto Zuniga Plasencia, 36.
The SUV struck a power pole, shearing it off at the ground and sending some power lines to the ground, Rupert said.
Bend firefighters responded to make sure there was no fire hazard, while Pacific Power responded to repair the damage. Initial scanner reports said the car was left running and blocking the road, with fluid leaking and the airbags deployed.
The road was closed for hours, with county Public Works crews helping reroute traffic around the scene. The power outage affecting 1,281 Pacific Power customers lasted for most a few hours and for about 460 until around 5 p.m., utility officials said.
A sheriff’s K-9 team responded to help deputies search for the suspects, and deputies soon learned the Yukon’s owner, Enrique Ibarra, 41, was the passenger in the SUV, Rupert said.
Around 3:25 p.m., deputies responded to a suspicious circumstance call in the area of Faugarwee Circle and River Woods Drive on a report of two men similar in description to the ones who fled the crash scene.
Deputies contacted the pair and learned they were the driver and passenger.
Zuniga Plasencia was arrested on charges of failure to perform the duties of a driver and reckless driving, and cited on charges of driving with a suspended license and no insurance. He was held without bail for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, jail records showed.
He also was cited for having an open container of alcohol; however, Rupert said alcohol was determined not to be a factor in the crash. Instead, Rupert said, the driver was going too fast for conditions when he hit an icy stretch of roadway.