Bend Police on Thursday arrested the son-in-law of a man who died after an incident at a west Bend roundabout nearly one year ago. But the investigation has created more questions about what happened that night.
Walter James Lane, 76, died after the Oct. 27, 2022 incident at the roundabout at Newport Avenue and NW 14th Street. It was initially investigated as a likely hit-and run.
In the early investigation, witnesses had reported seeing a large, dark-colored SUV leave the scene of the crash. Witnesses also reported that the driver pulled Lane out of the road and was yelling and slapping at him in an attempt to help him regain consciousness before leaving.
“What we don’t know is how Mr. Lane ended up outside of the vehicle in the roundabout,” said Sheila Miller, communications manager, Bend Police. “Might be a question for Mr. Brown. He declined to provide that information to investigators.”
Police say they learned that Lane and his son-in-law, Todd Alan Brown, went to two bars together before leaving the second one at about 9:20 p.m. It was determined, police say, that Brown had become intoxicated and was driving a 2004 black Cadillac Escalade that was registered to his wife. Lane was a passenger.
“We have video and bar tabs that put them in those locations, and they indicate that Mr. Brown drank quite a bit of alcohol during that period,” Miller said.
At some point, Lane suffered injuries that ultimately led to his death. But how he sustained those injuries is unclear, police say. Investigators could not find physical evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to explain how Lane ended up outside the Escalade.
Police say Brown did not cooperate with the investigation and tried to conceal his involvement. Police also say Brown has no Oregon driver’s license and his California driver’s license is criminally revoked.
Bend Police say they served a search warrant on the Escalade and on phones and other devices.
Brown was arrested Thursday. Police say he is facing charges of two counts of DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangering. He will be arraigned in Deschutes County on Nov. 1.