Driver held without bail after ‘3 best friends’ die

Crime

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The man accused of driving drunk, running a red light and  killing 3 Salem teens is being held without bail after he made his first court appearance Tuesday.

Juan Carlos Rodriguez Palacios faces 3 counts of 1st-degree manslaughter, 3rd-degree assault and DUII. Police said his BAC was 0.239% when tested, almost 3 times the legal limit of 0.08%.

The 25-year-old, who was also arrested for drunk driving in 2015, will make his next court appearance on June 13.

Trinity Watt, Madison Capobianco and Makayla Tryon all died at the scene of the crash  in the area of Salem Parkway and Cherry Avenue NE.

The probable cause document

The probable cause document obtained by KOIN 6 News said Rodriguez Palacios’ passenger, Juan Mendoza, met him at a bar and he appeared intoxicated before they got into his Jeep. 

Mendoza, who suffered severe lacerations on his neck and chest abrasions, told police he was “worried” and “nervous” and told Rodriguez Palacios to slow down and let him out. Instead, the Jeep ran a red light and slammed into the teens’ Toyota.

Witnesses behind the Toyota said it was stopped at the light, then moved forward when the light turned green. The driver said the Jeep was travelling “really fast” when it hit the Toyota.

At first, Rodriguez Palacios said he had only 2 beers after work. A blood draw at Salem Hospital showed his BAC was 0.239%. About 6 hours after the crash, he agreed to take a breath test which showed a BAC of 0.112% — still legally drunk.  He then admitted to drinking 8 beers.

‘They were all best friends’

(L-R) Madison Capobianco, Makayla Tryon, Trinity Watt in undated school photos provided June 3, 2019 (Courtesy: Salem-Keizer Public Schools)

Madison’s mother, Sheri Capobianco, said her daughter was spunky, a go-getter who didn’t take no for an answer.

“She was an arguer,” Sheri told KOIN 6 News. “I always told her she should be an attorney.”

The 3 girls were best friends. “Makayla, I’ve known her since she was tiny and she’s part of our family,” she said.

All 3 teens were at one time students in the Roberts program, a non-traditional high school in the Salem-Keizer School District.

Trinity and Madison were 19 and from Salem. Makayla was 18 and lived in Keizer. 

Madison’s boyfriend Artem Shypuk told KOIN 6 News the 3 teens were having a “girls night” and were on their way to the store for snacks when they were hit and killed.

Madison, who was a twin, was living with her oldest sister. She was an A student at Chemeketa Community College, was in a management role at a Dairy Queen and wanted to be a police officer, her mom said.

“I mean, she was always helping people. That was her mission in life.”

Sheri is angry at the man accused of killing the teens while driving drunk.

“He took my baby. She’s my youngest,” she said.

Sheri Capobianco, the mother of Madison Capobianco who was killed in a Salem car crash, June 4, 2019 (KOIN)

“The fact that he chose to get behind the wheel impaired like that, not thinking,” she said. “I just hope God forgives him because right now I don’t and it’s going to take a long time before I do.”

She said she won’t be at the court hearing because she was going to be at the funeral home.

“I’m still trying to figure out a way to go on, to find a way to live, to exist unit I can find a way to go home and be with her and my mom again,” Sheri said. “I feel lost, empty.”

This feels like a nightmare to her.

“You just want to hold them one more time. You just want to kiss them one more time, like I would give up everything I have just to spend one more day with her.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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