An early-morning pursuit Saturday, June 30, ended in a crash that downed a city light pole.
Keizer Police Sergeant Andrew Copeland observed a maroon Lexus 300 parked in the 600 block of Linda Avenue facing east about 4:50 a.m. The vehicle was parked on the side of the road with the parking lights on. Copeland drove past the vehicle and observed the vehicle was occupied by at least four occupants. He suspected drug activity and decided to watch the vehicle and the occupants from a distance.
A short time later the vehicle and five occupants left the area headed north on River Road. Officer Jeremy Worledge was also in the area and observed the vehicle driving without headlights on. Worledge attempted to stop the vehicle for the traffic violation and the driver immediately accelerated in an attempt to elude, said police officials.
The vehicle continued north on River Road at a high rate of speed with Worledge in pursuit.
As it approached the intersection of River Road North and Lockhaven Drive Northeast, a slight bend in the road caused the driver to lose control of his vehicle. The Lexus struck a city light pole and bounced off careening 75 feet off the roadway nearly going into a creek.
The light pole was knocked over and blocked south bound traffic on River Road.
Keizer Police officers were able to take the driver into custody without further incident.
The other four occupants of the vehicle were temporarily detained and then allowed to leave the scene.
The driver, 25-year-old Stephen Clayton Denson of Salem, was arrested and charged with eluding police officers, reckless endangering, assault, reckless driving and criminal mischief. He was being held on $110,000 bond.
Keizer police later determined the driver and the other occupants were parked on Linda Avenue smoking marijuana. The driver attempted to elude police because he was on parole and did not have a valid operator’s license, police officials said. Three of the occupants told police they were attempting to get the driver to stop the vehicle during the pursuit.
Two of the back seat occupants were transported to Salem Hospital with minor injuries.
A task force will explore how youth baseball at Keizer Little League Park will continue.
The management agreement between the Keizer Youth Sports Association and the city of Keizer, which owns Keizer Little League Park, expires at the end of July. The task force’s goal is twofold: Ensure the games go on next season, and finding a model that’s sustainable over the long term.
Operations for decades have been handled by volunteers through Keizer Little League. That organization split several years ago, with Keizer Youth Sports Association assuming responsibilty for the day-to-day maintenance and improvements.
“The collaborative effort worked for more than a dozen years until KYSA and Little League split,” said City Manager Chris Eppley. “And when that happened things changed … They just can’t get the volunteer base activated like they used to, and that’s what made that model possible.”
City officials were finalizing a request for proposals that KYSA, KLL or anyone else could take a swing at. How much the groups propose relying on taxpayers to subsidize operations – be it simply mowing fields or larger investments – remains to be seen.
In the meantime, the task force will include individuals representing both organizations along with City Councilor Jim Taylor.
“Our mission is to make sure those ballparks are used by the kids of Keizer … and somehow get these groups to do that together and ensure those fields are used as efficiently and often as possible,” Taylor said at last week’s city council meeting.
Eppley said the city may be able to provide some effective economies of scale by performing some maintenance activities. This year’s budget doesn’t include funds for upkeep, which means that any needed money would have to come at the expense of another department or program.
“That may very well include the city having to step up and take on some maintenance responsibilities,” Eppley said. “I think the days of us having an arm’s length relationship with that complex are over.”