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A Portland father’s family said they suspect he could be the motorist who was seen launching his vehicle off a highway bridge in a mysterious crash on Sunday that occurred around the time the man vanished.
Amaro Lopez left his job at his family’s restaurant at around 5 p.m. on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since, according to relatives. They said they believe he may have been involved in the serious car wreck that city authorities are now investigating.
On Feb. 14, witnesses reported seeing a maroon SUV that was traveling southbound on Interstate 205 strike an embankment and spin out of control at around 5:48 p.m., police said. The vehicle reportedly slid off Glenn L. Jackson Memorial Bridge and tumbled down towards the Columbia River. Coast guard officials first confirmed details of the accident.
“Based on physical evidence and witness statements, it appears a vehicle traveling south on the freeway lost control and went over the guardrail between the Oregon-Washington border and Government Island,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement.
River patrol units were sent to search the area but haven’t turned up any evidence of the SUV or its driver. Authorities also deployed sonar technology in their search effort.
“The Portland Police Major Crash Team is not aware of the vehicle in this crash having been discovered,” police said. “The vehicle has not been located and they have no vehicle or passenger details to release.”
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is leading search and rescue efforts. The investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Witness reports of the vehicle involved in the crash match the description of Lopez’s 2006 Subaru Tribeca, according to his family. They said the timeframe of the accident also roughly lines up with that of Lopez’s disappearance, noting the final stretch of his journey home takes him across Glenn Jackson Bridge.
Lopez called his wife shortly before vanishing, informing her he was on his way home, sources close to the family said. As the hours passed, however, they recalled growing increasingly panicked.
“It turned to 7, 8, and [my mom] texted him again, ‘I’m worried, where are you?’ And no response,” Lopez’s daughter, Abi Amaro, told KOIN.
Other relatives suspect Lopez ramped his vehicle over an embankment created by a snowplow following heavy snowfall.
“According to witnesses, he was on the Glenn Jackson Bridge, and it looks like he lost control on a sheet of ice,” Kelly Brown, an extended family member, told The Oregonian. “The snowplows pushed the snow to the side and created an embankment, and the vehicle went up that and over, into the water.”
The missing father’s family said they're frustrated with investigators’ search efforts.
“The police gave us a warning, a heads up that there was an accident on the bridge with a similar coloring,” Amaro added.
She also said that it would be “completely out of character” for her father to vanish and cease communication. The family said they’ve been repeatedly calling area hospitals looking for him.
A vigil was held for Lopez on Wednesday afternoon in Portland, according to the Columbian.
The Portland Police Bureau declined to comment on the case this week.
Anyone with information related to Lopez’s whereabouts or who may have witnessed Sunday’s accident is asked to contact Portland Police at 503-823-5070.
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