Man who hit and killed local firefighter charged with Criminal Negligent Homicide

BAKER CITY – Robert Lee Drinkard of Moro, Oregon, who hit and killed Baker City Firefighter Ryan Brecko on March 12 near Baker City has been charged with Criminal Negligent Homicide.

Criminally negligent homicide is defined as

(1) A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of another person.

(2) Criminally negligent homicide is a Class B felony.

During the arraignment, Baker County District Attorney Greg Baxter said that Drinkard noticed the canopy on his pickup coming off, so he pulled off the roadway.   Drinkard then saw a state trooper who was parked near the offramp and accelerated through the stop sign heading to ask the trooper for help with the canopy.  When doing so, Drinkard struck Brecko who was on his motorcycle.  Brecko was taken to an area hospital where he later died. 

A plea hearing is scheduled for Drinkard on May 16 in Baker County Circuit Court.

The original press release issued by Oregon State Police related to the fatal crash is as follows: 

On Sunday, March 12, 2023, at approximately 1:00 P.M., the Oregon State Police responded to a vehicle versus motorcycle crash on Hwy 203, at the Interstate 84 overpass.

The preliminary investigation indicated a 2007 Ford F-350 pickup, operated by Robert Lee Drinkard (77) of Moro, exited I-84 (eastbound exit 298) when the operator entered the intersection at the top of the off-ramp. The pickup drove into the path of a 2020 Harley Davidson, operated by Ryan James Brecko (27) of Baker City, who was eastbound on the Hwy 203 overpass (crossing I-84). The rider was thrown from the motorcycle and suffered critical injuries during the collision.

An Oregon State Trooper was traveling in front of the motorcycle and immediately responded to the scene. The Trooper activated emergency medical services and provided emergency medical care to the injured rider. The motorcyclist was transported to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

The operator of the pickup remained on scene and cooperated with investigators. The investigation is on-going and will be submitted to the District Attorney at the conclusion.

The highway traffic was impacted for approximately 4 hours during the on-scene investigation.

OSP was assisted by ODOT, the Baker County Sheriffs’ Office and Metro West Ambulance.