Portland DUI driver 4 times over legal limit shuts down traffic on major bridge

October 11, 2020 

A woman was cited in Portland on Saturday for allegedly drunken driving at four and a half times over the legal limit for alcohol consumption and crashing near a major bridge, temporarily shutting down traffic.

Rachell L. Barnhill, 27, of Beaverton, was cited for driving under the influence and reckless driving after crashing near Southeast Powell Boulevard and Ross Island Bridge. She was seriously injured in the crash.

Police said her blood alcohol content was .356, nearly 4 1/2 times the legal limit to drive.

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Photos released by the Portland Police Bureau Central Precinct showed a severely damaged red SUV after the partial head-on collision. One driver was pinned in the wreckage until they were rescued by Portland Fire & Rescue. Besides Barnhill, no one else involved was seriously hurt.

Lanes were temporarily closed in both directions at the east end of Ross Island Bridge, but reopened hours later. This comes after three people were already killed over the weekend on Portland roadways in fatal crashes involving impaired driving.

The Portland Police Bureau warned: "PLEASE do not drive impaired or distracted."

Meanwhile, Portland has been rocked by more than 130 nights of demonstrations, including some that devolved into riots, arson fires, and violent attacks on police officers.

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"On numerous occasions, officers have attempted to deescalate by staying far back, and not intervening when streets were blocked by crowds. That strategy has not been successful in preventing violence from individuals in the crowd who are intent on forcing officers to respond," the bureau said in a statement.

On Saturday, a mass gathering formed in Northeast Portland and marched to North Precinct, where many began to block a major thoroughfare. About 75 people arrived outside the precinct and police said virtually all of them wore armor, helmets, masks, and carried shields and umbrellas.

The Portland Police Bureau said it had information that the gathering was a planned "direct action" event, and the crowd's posture, including their armored attire, strongly suggested such.

"PPB was also concerned about the safety of the protesters, who were clad in black and difficult to see, on a major thoroughfare that was open to vehicular traffic," the bureau said. "Due to these concerns, and the fact there were resources in place to make arrests, action was taken earlier in this event than ones before."

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Police issued multiple warnings broadcast over loudspeakers and social media to disperse. Twenty-six people were arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges including interfering with a peace officer, disorderly conduct and illegally carrying a concealed weapon.

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