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Man who struck kids on Lozier Lane pleads guilty to hit-and-run charges

A Medford man who sped away after plowing into a group of juveniles walking along Lozier Lane in August will spend more than three years in prison after pleading guilty to felony hit-and-run charges.

Othon Campos Jr., 42, entered his guilty plea Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

He admitted to three counts of felony hit-and-run that will net him 41 months in prison, according prosecuting attorney Nick Geil.

In addition, Campos will spend three years on post-prison supervision and will lose his driver's license for a year.

"We believe this is a good outcome," Geil said. "It was a very tragic case."

In the late hours of Aug. 31, Campos was driving his pickup north in the 500 block of Lozier Lane, which is narrow and has no sidewalks, when he ran into a group of five juveniles, striking three. Two teenagers were sent to a local hospital with injuries and an 11-year-old girl was taken to Portland for treatment.

The youths were having a sleepover when they sneaked out of the house after 11 p.m. and planned to take a short walk to a friend's home. As they walked along Lozier Lane Campos' pickup truck slammed into the group from behind.

Three of the juveniles suffered serious injuries, among them an 11-year-old girl still enduring the effects of the crash, Geil said.

The impact broke the girl's pelvis and caused skull and brain injuries, he said.

"She will need another surgery on her pelvis and she will have permanent injury to her brain," Geil said. "I was there the night this happened and the girl was thrown into a ditch and was screaming and crying. What happed to her was terrible."

Campos had just left a bar when he and a friend jumped into his pickup. They were on their way to grab more beer when the pickup struck the juveniles.

Campos' passenger pleaded with him to pull over after the incident, but he was ignored, prosecutors said.

"Campos basically told him to shut up and kept driving," Geil said.

Campos sped away and hid out for more than a week. In the meantime, he fixed the damaged to his pickup caused by the impact.

"He took pains to cover up his crime," Geil said.

Finally, his passenger decided to work with the police and Campos was arrested on Sept. 11.

Police were unable to prove whether Campos was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the crime occurred.

Medford city officials are planning a $7.5-million upgrade to that section of the road, making it more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.

— Chris Conrad

Othon Campos Jr.