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Hit & Run Driver Arrested; Responsible for Gas Leak and Highway 99E Closure
08/05/2011
Lieutenant Gregg Hastings
Public Information Officer
(503) 731-3020 ext. 247

Photograph links valid 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
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A Washington man was arrested Friday evening after Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers located his vehicle related to a hit-and-run investigation associated with damage to Northwest Natural Gas equipment at the intersection of Highway 99E and Highway 551 north of Hubbard. The ensuing gas line leak led to a 3-hour closure of the highway until gas company personnel could stop the leak.
 
According to OSP Senior Trooper Doug Brown, on August 5, 2011 at 6:56 p.m. the OSP Northern Command Center dispatch was advised of a traffic crash and possible damage to gas company equipment and valve along Highway 99E at Highway 551. Witnesses reported a green pickup left the scene and drove to a nearby berry field.
 
OSP troopers, Hubbard and Woodburn police, and fire personnel from Aurora and Hubbard Fire Departments responded and found a damaged gas company valve at the merge point of the two highways. ODOT and NW Natural Gas responded to the scene. The adjacent Union Pacific Railroad line was shut down for about 45 minutes.
 

A witness told police where the suspect vehicle was at a nearby berry field. The suspect driver, FAUSTINO SANTOS JUAREZ, age 31, from Mattawa, Washington was located by OSP and Woodburn police along with a green Toyota Tacoma pickup. Subsequent investigation led to SANTOS JUAREZ being arrested for Driving While Under the Influence of Intoxicants, Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, Fail to Perform the Duties of a Driver, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangering Another Person.
 

The suspect's pickup struck and damaged a gas valve which caused a release of natural gas into the atmosphere. An initial safety perimeter of approximately 1/4 mile was established. After the gas line was closed, the highways were re-opened at about 10:00 p.m.