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Community mourns four people killed in crash at Salem homeless camp

Enrique Rodriguez is accused of driving while drunk and crashing into a homeless camp, killing four and injuring several others.

SALEM, Ore. — Saturday was a very emotional day for those who knew the four people killed last weekend when an alleged drunk driver crashed into a Salem homeless camp.

The camp where they were killed is gone, cleared by Oregon Department of Transportation in a sweep scheduled prior to the crash. Now, flowers sit at the site of so much pain and sadness.

A small group gathered near the corner of Northeast Front Street and Division in Salem to remember their friends.

"I don't really have the words for it ... here one moment, gone the next. It's really heartbreaking," said Brenten C., who knew the victims. "This right here is a tragedy."

Four crosses show the names of each victim: Jowand Beck, Luke Kagey, Rochelle Zamacona and Joe Posada III.

Credit: KGW

RELATED: 4 killed after driver crashes into Salem homeless camp

Four people were killed and two others hurt in the crash at the end of March. Police say a drunk driver careened into the camp around 2 a.m. The accused driver, Enrique Rodriguez, appeared in court Monday.

Prosecutors say Rodriguez's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. His charges include four counts of manslaughter in the first degree.

"If we had a safer place to go, then this wouldn't have happened," said Michael, who was at the memorial.

ODOT cleared the camp soon after the crash, and many at the memorial were among those forced to pack up. Homeless advocates say more than a thousand people sleep outside in the Salem area, but the city is short about 500 shelter beds.

"I'm on a list — they said it could be a year before I can get a place," explained Darci. Like Michael, she's currently homeless. Until she finds stable housing, Darci plans to move from place to place seeking safety.

"I try really hard, I'll clean somebody's house," Darci continued, "but it's hard to get a job when you can't take a shower every day."

The camp cleared by ODOT in Salem this week as part of an ongoing effort to keep people from living close to state roads.

RELATED: ODOT crews sweep Salem homeless camps in the wake of deadly crash

RELATED: Names of victims released in deadly Salem homeless camp crash

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