VANCOUVER, Wash. – George Swift says his son had a big heart.
“I can’t think of anybody who had a bigger heart than he had,” he said Monday.
George’s son, 52-year-old Tom Swift, died after his car was rear-ended by a pickup truck last Friday night, causing it to smash into another car near the Capitol Highway exit in the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.
Police told George that the man who rear-ended Tom’s car, Ronald Witt, didn’t see the line of traffic stopped in front of him.
“They decided he was distracted for a moment,” said Swift. “He was looking for something like that when the traffic ahead of him slowed down to a stop and he didn’t notice it.”
Witt, 56, tested clean for drugs and alcohol. He was driving while his license was revoked, according to Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.
He was released from the Multnomah County Jail on Saturday.
In 2012, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles revoked, suspended or canceled 379,090 licenses.
Of the 305 deadly crashes last year in Oregon, 26 of them involved drivers who weren’t supposed to be at the wheel.
In Witt's case, it had been five years since his last run-in with the law. Legal experts say it’s possible Witt could face more charges because he has a history of driving under the influence and losing his license. Witt was arrested for DUII in 1994 and 2005. He refused to take a breathalyzer test in 2008. He's had his license suspended or revoked seven times.
The state labeled Witt a habitual offender.
In an effort to control the prison population, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a law that said anyone convicted of driving without a license will not go to prison unless they hurt someone or have hurt someone in the past.
“He shouldn’t have been in that truck,” said Swift. “And obviously if he was looking off, that’s proof he shouldn’t have been driving at all.”