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Update: Death Investigation - Man Fatally Shoots Himself During OSP Traffic Stop
April 2, 2013
The following is a news release update prepared by Lane County Sheriff's Office (LCSO)

Related OSP News Release


Investigation revealed that OSP was stopping a 1987 Chevrolet Corvette for a speed violation after observing it travelling eastbound on Highway 126W west of Veneta at a high rate of speed and obtaining a radar reading on the vehicle of 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. The vehicle has only two seats and both were occupied. The vehicle initially yielded just long enough for the passenger to get out of the vehicle. The passenger, a white male adult, stepped out of the vehicle and started to walk back toward the OSP patrol car with his hands in the air.

The Corvette, later determined to be driven by David Eugene Vale, age 53, from Portland, pulled back out onto Highway 126W and continued eastbound. The OSP sergeant got back into his patrol car and followed, preparing himself for what he believed was about to be a vehicle pursuit. However, after continuing eastbound for about one mile at speeds of 50 - 60 mph, the Corvette yielded to the shoulder of the highway a second time and stopped. As the OSP sergeant got out of his vehicle, he heard a single gunshot and the Corvette again started to travel eastbound. This time, the Corvette traveled about 30 - 40 yards before turning right into the ditch off the shoulder and coming to rest after striking a tree.

The OSP sergeant approached the Corvette and observed the driver had a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He called for medical help and grabbed a first aid kit from his patrol car. Returning to the Corvette, the sergeant saw it was clear that Vale was beyond any medical assistance. This was confirmed by medics from the Lane Fire Authority upon their arrival.

The passenger was contacted by rersponding LCSO sheriff's deputies as he continued to walk along the shoulder of Highway 126W. He was interviewed by a detective and stated that he was a hitch-hiker who'd been picked up by Vale on Highway 126W a few miles out of Florence and he was going to be dropped off at Highway 126W near Poodle Creek Road. As it appears he is uninvolved, his name is not released at this time.

Investigation at the scene where the Corvette came to rest was completed by LCSO detectives. Along with subsequent examination by the Lane County Medical Examiner's Office, the investigation indicates Vale died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A .357 revolver with one spent shell casing and four live rounds was found inside the vehicle. Further, a large amount of methamphetamine and heroin, along with other illicit drug paraphernalia, was located inside the vehicle.

Vale has a lengthy criminal history for drug possession and delivery, as well as weapons offenses, dating back to 1989 in Oregon, as well as drug and weapon-related offenses in California and Arizona. Information obtained through interviews with others associated with Vale incidates he had been released on bail following an arrest in Multnomah County and had been considering flight to Mexico. He told others that if he ever got stopped again, he "would not go back to jail."

Questions regarding the investigation should be directed to LCSO Public Information Officer Sergeant Carrie Carver at (541) 682-4179.