A 74-year-old Enterprise man who'd driven to Imnaha to have lunch Monday was seriously injured in a rollover accident less than two miles west of Imnaha.
Theodore W. Wolf was driving east in a 2008 Ford Focus, when his car left state Highway 350 on a right-hand curve and crashed into a rock cliff along the highway, Oregon State Police troopers said.
Wolf was flown by Life Flight helicopter to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho, where he was reported to be in serious condition in the intensive care unit as of press time Tuesday afternoon. No details about his injuries were available.
According to a witness who had just passed Wolf driving in the opposite direction, the car flipped over after crashing into a rock wall. It came to rest on its driver's side, with Wolf trapped inside.
The accident was reported at 1:15 p.m., according to an OSP log entry.
The 911 call was made from Imnaha by the unnamed motorist who witnessed the wreck in his rearview mirror.
Randy Johnson and Jack Lewis, both of Joseph, were on their way to Imnaha to steelhead fish when they came upon the accident.
Johnson stayed at the crash scene and helped support Wolf, who was still in his seatbelt, until emergency workers arrived.
Rescuers included seven members of the Joseph Fire Department, who arrived with the Jaws of Life extrication equipment at about 1:40 p.m.
Wolf's red Ford Focus sedan was transformed into convertible after the firemen worked approximately 40 minutes to remove the car's top to free him.
Wolf was then taken by a Wallowa Memorial Hospital ambulance to the Imnaha Christian Fellowship just outside Imnaha, the closest landing site, where a helicopter waited.
Mike Musia, one of the firemen, said that the ambulance was right behind the fire department when it arrived on the scene, with the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office already there. "What I saw were some people helping to support him, and a PP&L truck backed up to the car to support it so it wouldn't tip over," Musia said. He added that Wolf was conscious and talking to ambulance personnel during the extrication ordeal.
A number of other people in the Imnaha area had rushed to the accident scene to help, including Dave Tanzey, owner of the Imnaha Store and Tavern, who said Wolf had lunch in his establishment just a short time before the wreck.
"They said he was driving in this direction. I'm not sure why, since he'd left here going the other way," Tanzey said.
Oregon State Police was represented by Trooper Barry Taft at the scene, and an accident reconstruction specialist was called in from La Grande. The accident was still under investigation on Tuesday.