Caller: Hes going in the opposite lane!

Local man helps police nab erratic hit-and-run driver from West Linn
by: ,

Last Wednesday, Brian Silcott was at the right place at the right time.

Driving along Highway 43, Silcott spotted a silver Honda Accord heading into Lake Oswego.

The Honda driver wasn't speeding, but he was swerving and had the piece of another car attached to his right passenger door.

'It was clearly a dangerous situation,' Silcott said. 'He was erratic and drifting into other lanes.'

He called 911 on his cell.

Silcott, director of Lake Oswego-based Rhino Lacrosse, was en route to Mary S. Young State Park for a team practice.

But for the next five minutes and 46 seconds, he gave a sometimes harrowing account to 911 dispatch of his ride through Lake Oswego into West Linn.

'He appears to have a piece of another car attached to his car,' Silcott told 911. 'It looks like the fender of another car. It's hard to tell. I'm not getting too close.'

Silcott, in an interview this week, said he kept a safe distance from the Honda driver, Bret LeFrancois Horner, 21, of West Linn.

'I wasn't thinking it was a drunk driver,' Silcott said. 'It could have been any number of things. I thought it was best that he get off the road.'

Once the cars passed McVey at the south end of Lake Oswego, things got interesting.

'Oh, Jesus!' Silcott exclaimed. 'He's going in the opposite lane.'

By this time, several minutes into Silcott's call to 911, police from West Linn and Lake Oswego were narrowing in on Horner.

Horner took a turn onto Marylhurst Drive in West Linn, where he was stopped by West Linn officer Taylor Neil.

His blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit, according to police, and Horner was charged with driving under the influence. He was also charged with reckless driving and hit and run.

The extra body part attached to Horner's car was from a collision he had with a Volvo on Macadam and Southwest Nebraska, in the Johns Landing area.

Silcott, who is also vice president of the Lumberjax, Portland's professional indoor lacrosse team, told 911 he could follow as far as Mary S. Young State Park.

Silcott said he would have continued following Horner, although 'the kids would have been waiting at the park,' he said of his lacrosse team.

It was a textbook example of how to track a potentially dangerous driver, according to West Linn Police Sgt. Neil Hennelly.

'This shows how difficult it is to catch up to a moving target,' Hennelly said. 'That drives home the point of why it's so important to stay in contact with the dispatch center.'

Hennelly said it's important for drivers to know nearby landmarks, in case they need to call in an emergency on a cell phone.

Such vigilance is not uncommon in West Linn and Lake Oswego, where callers inform police of any suspicious activity. One Lake Oswego resident recently called police to report a person had thrown a lit cigarette out of his moving car.

'Folks in Lake Oswego and West Linn have a higher service expectation than many other communities do,' said Hennelly, referring to calls to the police. 'We encourage them to call us if they see something wrong.'

'If you see a car swerving on the road with an extra body panel on it, we need to know that,' he said.

Silcott, who is from New York and moved to Portland two years ago, said it was his first 911 call.

'He's a hero, in our eyes,' said Hennelly.

Audio from 9-1-1 call: audio file