BEND, Ore. - A 34-year-old Bend man was critically injured Sunday evening when his SUV, towing a drift boat, left Benham Falls Road and rolled at least three times, Deschutes County sheriff's deputies said. One of two dogs riding with him was injured and taken to Bend for treatment; the other has not been found.
Deputies and Sunriver Fire Department medics were dispatched around 5:45 p.m. to the reported crash of a white 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser on Benham Falls Road near Forest Service Road 9703 south of town, said Lt. Bryan Husband.
John Baumann, the driver, who was wearing his seat belt and had no other passengers, was flown by AirLink helicopter to St. Charles Bend, where a nursing supervisor said he had improved to serious condition Wednesday morning. The Toyota's air bag did not deploy, and no other vehicles were involved.
An investigation found that Baumann had been towing a roughly 14-foot fiberglass drift boat, heading east toward Highway 97, when "for an unknown reason at this time," he drifted onto the road's southbound shoulder, then over-corrected, causing the Toyota to flip at least three times, Husband said.
The SUV traveled about 600 feet from the start of the over-correction before coming to rest on its side, on the edge of the road and the eastbound shoulder, he said.
The boat and trailer unhitched during the crash and had significant damage. The Land Cruiser also was totaled, and Trac Towing was called in to remove the Toyota and the boat and trailer.
Husband said Baumann was traveling with his two Australian shepherd mix dogs, Zoe and Bandit. Zoe was found at the scene and taken to the Animal Emergency Center in Bend, while Bandit could not be found.
Friends and others kept looking and later found Bandit, an Aussie/healer mix.