MEDFORD, Ore. — A Shady Cove man has been cleared of criminal charges stemming from an early-morning crash in Shady Cove just a few days before Christmas 2018, according to a statement from the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.
25-year-old Tori Anderson died in the crash after the driver of her vehicle, 24-year-old Cody Lowe, fell asleep at the wheel and careened into the back of a semi-trailer.
Deputies responded just before 2:30 a.m. on December 22 to reports of the crash. Investigators determined that Lowe had been driving from Medford to Shady Cove on Highway 62 when he veered off the highway and hit the back of the parked semi-truck trailer.
"Ms. Anderson was the front seat passenger in Mr. Lowe's vehicle," the DA's office said. "Emergency personnel responded, and Ms. Anderson was pronounced dead on scene."
Law enforcement interviewed both Lowe and the other passenger in the vehicle, Tyler Vanhouten. However, Vanhouten said that he was asleep at the time of the crash and could not speak to the moments just before.
Lowe told police that he, Anderson, and Vanhouten had been out at "various establishments" in Medford before driving back to Shady Cove, according to the DA's office. Lowe said that he had smoked marijuana before leaving his house that night at 6:30 p.m., and had just one drink around 7 p.m. that night.
"Mr. Lowe advised that he did not consume any additional intoxicants," the DA's office said. Vanhouten backed up Lowe's account of the night, saying that he hadn't seen Lowe have more than that one drink.
Lowe began driving them home, with Anderson in the front passenger's seat and Vanhouten in the back. Both Anderson and Vanhouten fell asleep.
"Mr. Lowe stated that he remembered driving down the hill that approaches Shady Cove, but must have fallen asleep. Mr. Lowe stated that he woke up immediately before crashing into the semi-trailer, but did not have enough time to make an evasive maneuver."
Investigators found that neither Anderson or Vanhouten were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. Anderson was thrown from the vehicle.
Deputies said that Lowe stayed at the scene until they arrived, and showed no signs of intoxication. The investigators didn't find any evidence to contradict Lowe's statement that he had fallen asleep, the DA's office said.
"The evidence indicates that Mr. Lowe was not intoxicated or distracted. The incident that day was a terrible accident," the DA's office concluded. "However, there is no evidence of criminal culpability on any of the involved individuals."