Oregon

Driver Indicted For Manslaughter More Than A Year After Fatal Crash

East Oregonian | Nov. 1, 2012 2:05 a.m. | Updated: Nov. 1, 2012 9:05 a.m.

Contributed By:

PHIL WRIGHT

Daily Astorian

A Pendleton-area man is facing felony charges for a 2011 crash that left another man dead.

A Umatilla County grand jury indicted Brock Adam Mecham, 23, of 40170 Rieth Road, Pendleton, for second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, driving under the influence of intoxicants and reckless driving. The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office will arraign him on the charges Tuesday morning in circuit court at the Umatilla County Court House, Pendleton.

Mecham was the driver of a 1994 Toyota 4Runner when it crashed the morning of Sept. 13 off Highway 11 about five miles north of Pendleton, according to court documents. Oregon State Police reported the SUV was travelling southbound at a high speed on a straight portion of the road when it drifted across the northbound lane, climbed a steep embankment and rolled multiple times in a wheat field, where it came rest on the driver’s side.

The crash ejected Mecham and the only passenger, Abel Joseph Trejo, 25, of Pendleton, who died at the scene. Neither men wore seatbelts.

OSP Trooper Lisa Sater investigated the crash. According to her search warrant affidavits, doctors at St. Anthony Hospital, Pendleton, didn’t expect Mecham to live. He suffered “numerous broken bones in his chest and pelvic region as well as damaged internal organs.” Those injuries, she wrote, were “consistent with the vehicle driver’s body striking the steering wheel.”

Sater also found Mecham’s blood-alcohol level was .18 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.

An air ambulance flew Mecham to Oregon Heath & Science University, Portland, where doctors massaged his heart and removed his spleen, according to the documents.

Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus said the case took a while to build, in part because Mecham had to recover from his injuries.

“We’ve been continuing to investigate this case … until we felt we had enough to move forward with the charges,” he said.

The East Oregonian wasn’t able to reach Mecham for comment. He is not in custody. Primus said Mecham is aware of the charges and the forthcoming arraignment.

Mecham and Trejo were employees of Chippewa Painting of Pendleton, the affidavits show. The two were due at a job site near Tollgate the morning of the crash. Coworkers told Sater the men had left a nearby campground at about midnight Sept. 13. Phone records show Trejo called his girlfriend on Mecham’s cellphone:

“She described this call as A.J. pouring his heart out, telling her she was his woman, that he loved her and her daughter, that he loved the baby they were having together and would always be there to take care of them.”

The call ended after seven minutes, 47 seconds, when she heard “loud noises, which she said looking back on it sounded like shattering glass, and the line went dead.”

Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.

This story originally appeared in East Oregonian.

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