Linn County Undersheriff Michelle Duncan reports on October 22 at 8:14 p.m., deputies responded to a fatal motor vehicle crash on Knox Butte Road near Albany. Dispatch reported a single vehicle crashed into the ditch and one person pinned in the car.

Deputies responded to the scene and learned Eric Valencia, 35, of Albany was driving eastbound on Knox Butte when he lost control of his vehicle near Harber Road. The 2018 Kia left the roadway and struck concrete blocks near a driveway causing significant damage. The passenger, Benjamin Garcia Mendoza, 23, of Albany was found deceased in the vehicle. Valencia received non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to the Salem Hospital for treatment.

Eric Valencia was contacted in Corvallis on October 27, 2021 after being released from the hospital.  He was arrested and brought to the Linn County Jail for the charges of Manslaughter in the First Degree, Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangering, and DUII.

The Multi-Agency Investigation Team (MAIT) was called out to assist with the investigation.  Deputies were also assisted by the Albany Fire Department, Oregon State Police, Albany Police Department, Lebanon Police Department and AAsum-Defour Funeral Home.