The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner
PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — Oregon City resident Ashley Backenstos said she was just trying to meet family for dinner at the Southridge Shopping Center when a drunk driver tore through the parking lot, ramming 12 cars and putting pedestrians like Backenstos in mortal danger.
Earlier this month the Clackamas County DA’s Office formally charged John Dale Coady, 66, with 15 different crimes related to the incident, based on OCPD’s investigation into Coady’s alleged reckless driving, reckless endangering and driving under the influence of intoxicants. Coady was treated and released at a nearby hospital for injuries, and OCPD expressed gratitude that no one else was injured.
A resident of the Beavercreek area near Oregon City, Coady said that he had been a construction contractor until his license expired in 2019 but is now “semi-retired.” He told Pamplin Media Group that he was advised by his attorney not to speak with anyone else about the May 5 incident.
Backenstos and other victims were most concerned that Coady had two previous convictions for drunk driving during the past decade, but he was allowed to keep his driver’s license. State prosecutors are seeking a felony conviction against Coady due to his conviction history. Backenstos said that state law should be changed to immediately revoke people’s licenses after drunk-driving convictions.
OCPD’s said that Coady’s drunk-driving antics were captured in a video that soon went viral on the internet.
Around 5:30 p.m., Backenstos was walking out of her car to meet her family at a restaurant when she saw Coady ram his truck into a parked car, then he accelerated in her direction before crashing into several additional cars.
Backenstos said her “terror” in having to sprint away from the parking-lot demolition will linger for the rest of her life.
“If I didn’t start running, I would be dead. I ran around the corner, and I didn’t stop running,” she said.
Backenstos was glad that her two children happened not to be there with her that night. If her children had been present, she believes they would have been killed, because they would have not been able to run away from Coady’s truck as quickly as their mother did. She says that even a month after the incident, she has never felt safe while she’s on a public street and may never feel comfortable walking in public again.
“It worries me that if I’m on a sidewalk, there could always be someone who is drunk who is going to be hurting me and my family,” she said. “If you can afford to drink alcohol, you can afford an Uber, so people need to make better choices.”
On July 6, Coady is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges related to his alleged reckless imperiling of life and destruction of other people’s vehicles. Complaints have been made to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to investigate whether Coady was drunk from being served at nearby restaurants or purchasing alcohol at the nearby liquor store.