Prineville family upset by Model A's watery end

Police: Transient stole, crashed vintage car into Crooked River

Family dismayed by vintage car's loss

PRINEVILLE, Ore. -  A vintage Ford Model A was stolen in Prineville on Sunday. The restored car of a bygone era was parked at the Church of Christ while driver Jack Groves, 79, was having lunch.

However, contrary to earlier police reports, the restored car didn't belong to Groves.  He was fixing it up for the Waetjen family, who has owned the Model A since it was built in 1930.

"My dad got it from my grandparents as a gift, and it was something my dad was always passionate about for years," said Kelsea Luebbers, co-owner of the stolen, then totaled car.

"He always intended on passing to my brother and I," she said.

A family heirloom, now lost to the Crooked River. 

Oregon State Police said the car was stolen by transient Erik Blake Halpin, 34, who sped around a corner along Highway 27th milepost 9 near SE Riverview Road.  Halpin lost control at the turn, and drove the vehicle into the river.  It was recovered, totaled, shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday.

"It's sad that all of the time and effort that that (Groves) put into it is down the drain," said Luebbers.

Due to overcrowding at the Crook County Jail, Halpin has been released after being booked on charges of DUII, car theft and first-degree criminal mischief, among others.

"Just the fact that this puke is back out on the street would be the most frustrating thing about this," Luebbers said. 

The vehicle was insured. Kelsea Luebbers' father, Jim Waetjen, and brother Trevor are the two other co-owners.  They were both out of state when the incident occurred.

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