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APD: Man paralyzed, woman suffers severe head injuries in Independence Day DUII crash

APD: Man paralyzed, woman suffers severe head injuries in Independence Day DUII crash

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Joseph McCusker

Joseph McCusker

An intoxicated driving crash in Albany on the Fourth of July left a passenger in the vehicle paralyzed, and a woman who was struck by the car suffered severe head injuries and two broken arms, according to court paperwork.

The driver, Joseph Ryan McCusker, 33, was charged on Monday in Linn County Circuit Court with driving under the influence of intoxicants, two counts of second-degree assault, third-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence and reckless driving. His bail was set at $150,000 by Judge Brendan Kane, and the next hearing in the case is scheduled for July 27.

The crash occurred at about 1 p.m. on Seventh Avenue Southeast, underneath the Pacific Boulevard overpass.

According to a probable cause affidavit in the case, Amy Lyn Balderas, 40, who was standing with her bicycle in the area, was struck by the vehicle. She was transported to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.

Jesse Gieffels, 22, of Albany, was paralyzed in the wreck.

Troy Hopper, 48, another passenger in the car, suffered bruising to his chest, lacerations to his head and breathing difficulties as a result of the crash.

Gieffels, Hopper and McCusker were all taken to Samaritan Albany General Hospital.

A third passenger in the vehicle left the scene on foot.

The probable cause affidavit states that McCusker’s 2002 Pontiac Sunfire was westbound and left the roadway on a curve, going onto railroad property before it crashed into one of the support beams for the overpass.

In the immediate aftermath of the wreck, McCusker allegedly hid multiple syringes and other narcotics paraphernalia in nearby weeds and behind a support beam, according to the affidavit.

McCusker admitted to an investigator that he hid these items due to fear of a DUII investigation, the affidavit states.

At Samaritan Albany General Hospital, a blood draw from McCusker showed the presence of methamphetamine, heroin and methadone, according to court paperwork.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at 541-812-6077 or


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