Man charged in deaths of students hit by truck

A man was charged with manslaughter Friday in the deaths of two suburban Oklahoma City high school cross-country athletes whom he allegedly hit with his truck as they ran on a sidewalk just a day after his own son was killed in a traffic accident.

Max Leroy Townsend, 57, is accused of running over six cross-country runners in front of Moore High School on Monday afternoon, killing senior Rachel Freeman and sophomore Yuridia Martinez. The four other students were injured, and one of them remained in critical condition Friday.

Townsend was also charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, driving under the influence causing great bodily injury, and leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury, District Attorney Greg Mashburn said.

The students were running on a sidewalk when Townsend hit them with a pickup truck, according to investigators. Townsend drove off and was stopped several blocks away by witnesses who pursued him from the accident site, police said.

Mashburn said Townsend was believed to be driving 65 to 70 mph in the 25 mph school zone.

Prosecutors allege Townsend had stayed up drinking after his shift ended at 2 a.m. to mourn his 28-year-old son, Cody, who was killed Sunday in a multivehicle crash in Moore, official said.

A man who talked to Townsend after the crash outside the school said he was talking to himself and said, “I just lost my son.” Mashburn said Friday that there’s no evidence the crash was intentional.

Townsend has a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions for driving under the influence, public intoxication, possession of drugs and stolen property, stalking and child abuse, court records show. He served time in prison on convictions for child abuse and other charges, but was released in 2009, prison records show.


Flooding causes road closures, evacuations

Severe flooding in eastern Oregon closed a major freeway on Friday, forced evacuations and stranded at least one family on their roof as other parts of the Pacific Northwest also braced for more flooding and landslides from relentless rain and rapid snowmelt.

Images showed massive big rigs foundering in water that had poured over Interstate 84, a major freeway linking Idaho and Oregon, and a small bridge that collapsed as the Umatilla River overran its banks.

Smaller rivers and streams in northeastern Oregon roared with water from a rapid snowmelt, leaving at least one family stranded on their roof and authorities scrambling to rescue residents from a mobile home park.

The Umatilla River crested at more than 19 feet just before 10 p.m. Thursday in Pendleton, nearly four times the average height for that date, the National Weather Service said. Several other historic river level records fell in both Oregon and Washington state.

Tom Roberts, the emergency services manager for Umatilla County, said the National Guard provided aerial aid late Thursday as roads near the Umatilla River filled with water.

Evacuation shelters were open in Pendleton and at a warming station on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation usually used for homeless people.

I-84 was closed for nearly 200 miles westbound from the Idaho border and was also closed eastbound for a six-mile stretch, authorities said. As flash flooding hit, multiple smaller roads around the region were closed as well.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) issued an updated emergency proclamation on Friday for 20 counties because of damage from storms that are forecast to continue into the weekend.

Seventeen rivers in western Washington had reached flood stage, authorities said. Near Walla Walla, Washington, just north of the Oregon border, the Mill River crested at more than 20 feet, setting a record, according to the National Weather Service.