Jefferson County

Culver DUII crash has ties to past tragedy

Pickup-into-house suspect lost wife, 3 kids in 2001 car-train collision

Culver crash stirs echoes of 2001 tragedy

CULVER, Ore. - Miraculously, a Culver man is alive and out of the hospital, two days after a pickup truck came barreling through his bedroom with a suspected drunk driver at the wheel.

At the Jefferson County Circuit Court arraignment Monday of suspect 45-year-old Steven Roe, the judge asked him if his affidavit statement was correct. Roe replied, "To the best of my knowledge. I may have made some errors about (alcohol) amounts, but I believe it's correct."

With his head wrapped in a white bandage, Roe was given a bail amount of $50,000 for his five felony and misdemeanor charges of DUII, second- and third-degree assault, reckless driving and criminal mischief.

In what police described in his probable cause affidavit, Roe slurred his speech while telling police this weekend that he started drinking at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon at the Round Butte Inn in Culver after he got off work.

Roe told deputies he drank whiskey, and what he thought was about six beers. He left the bar after it closed around 2 a.m.

"After he left the bar, his apparent statements were that he blacked out," Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins said Monday.

Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, deputies say Roe was on his way home but passed out and blew through a stop sign at Iris Lane and Feather Drive in Culver, slamming into the cinder block home of his friend, 46-year-old Charles Wilda, Jr.

Wilda was asleep in his bedroom when Roe's Ford F-350 barreled into his house and landed right on top of him. Sheriff's deputies say by the time they arrived, Roe had gotten out of the truck on his own.

"The ceiling collapsed down onto the suspect vehicle," Adkins said. "The fire department had to use airbags and rams to lift the vehicle up off the person and cut the legs off the bed to drop him out from under the vehicle."

Wilda was trapped for over two hours, then flown to St. Charles-Bend -- where miraculously friends say, he didn't even break a bone. 

What he didn't know was that his friend was the one who hit him. Both Roe's and Wilda's wives work at the Round Butte Inn, the bar that sheriff's deputies say over-served Roe.

The owner of the Round Butte Inn gave us this statement: "Both Charles Wilda and Steve Roe are part of our Round Butte Inn Family. We thank God they both survived the tragic events of Friday night and stand united to help them with their immediate and long term needs, both materially and emotionally."

Adkins says the role the bar played in the accident is under investigation. He'll be turning over information to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to see whether any laws were violated in "serving a visibly intoxicated person."

According to court records, Roe failed the six clues of the police horizontal finger-eye test known as an HGN. He agreed to a blood draw and a breath test, in which he blew a .13 BAC (blood alcohol count) four hours after the crash (Oregon's legal limit for DUII is .08).

Family members tell NewsChannel 21 it's been a heartbreaking road for Roe that he's still not healed from.

In early December of 2001, his first wife and three of their four children were killed at a Culver railroad crossing on SW Feather Drive when her car slid on freezing rain, right into the path of an oncoming freight train.

Back then, Roe was a volunteer firefighter -- and was first on scene, tragically finding his own family members were the victims.

To get to and from home every day, Roe must pass over that same railroad crossing where his life changed forever.

Roe's family says the Wildas are supportive and forgiving of Saturday's crash.

"God was with him (Wilda), and Mr. Roe is very fortunate he's not facing more serious charges," Adkins said.

The case will go before a grand jury later this week, and the charges could be altered.


comments powered by Disqus