Albany, OR

Tragic Oregon highway crash kills 7 farmworkers and injures 4, according to union reports


The farmworkers union in Oregon and Mexican officials have confirmed that the victims of a devastating highway crash were agricultural laborers who were commuting home after a long day of harvesting. The tragic incident occurred when a semi-truck veered off Interstate 5 near Albany, a region known for its agricultural activities in the Willamette Valley. While the authorities have not yet released the names of the seven deceased and the four injured individuals, the Woodburn-based PCUN, representing farmworkers, issued a statement expressing their support for the affected families and emphasizing the need for safer roads for workers during their commute.

The Mexican Consulate in Portland also released a Spanish statement on Facebook and Twitter, confirming that the victims were Mexican nationals working as farm laborers. The consulate immediately offered assistance to the injured, who were transported to a hospital in the state capital of Salem for urgent medical attention. They also pledged their commitment to working closely with law enforcement agencies and making efforts to locate family members of the deceased, urging them to contact the consulate.

The driver of the semi-truck, identified as Lincoln Clayton Smith, a 52-year-old from North Highlands, California, was arrested on Friday. He is facing charges of manslaughter, driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving, and assault. Smith is currently being held without bail at the Marion County Jail. Whether his case has been assigned to the state public defender's office or a specific attorney remains uncertain.

During Smith's arraignment, it was revealed that he had refused a field sobriety test and exhibited impaired cognitive function, struggling to focus and answer basic questions. Smith acknowledged to ingesting "speed" the day before the accident, according to the prosecutor, and was also found in possession of methamphetamine. Witnesses reported seeing the truck weaving on and off the road in the northbound lanes before the collision with the van, with no evidence of braking. Oregon State Police confirmed that all the victims were passengers in the truck, with six fatalities occurring at the scene and one more following after being airlifted to a hospital. The condition of the four injured individuals has not been publicly disclosed.

Following the crash, the Albany Democrat-Herald reported that the bodies of the victims were seen covered in plastic in a nearby field. This tragic incident ranks among the deadliest crashes in recent Oregon history. Another devastating collision in Harney County in August 2018 claimed the lives of seven individuals, including five young children, while a tour bus accident near Pendleton in December 2012 resulted in the deaths of nine passengers and injured many others.

Albany, located between Salem and Eugene, lies approximately 70 miles south of Portland. Interstate 5, where the crash occurred, is a vital north-south artery on the West Coast.

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