By Dylan J. Darling • The Bulletin

A Crook County man’s plan to take his restored Model A to church to show the congregation backfired Sunday when police allege a transient stole the vintage automobile and crashed it into the Crooked River.

“It’s my understanding that the vehicle was in very good condition before it was stolen,” Capt. Michael Boyd of the Prineville Police Department wrote in an email.

The 79-year-old owner of the car , whom police declined to identify, left the 1930 Model A near the Church of Christ on East Third Street in Prineville while he went to lunch, Boyd said. It was stolen between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.

At 3:10 p.m. the Oregon State Police received word that a Ford Model A had rolled into the Crooked River 9 miles south of Prineville on state Highway 27, near Southeast Riverview Road, according to OSP. Witnesses reported seeing a man swim to shore from the car.

The man, Erik Blake Halpin, a 34-year-old transient, was transported by air ambulance to St. Charles Bend for injuries sustained in the tumble into the river, according to OSP. After being released from the hospital, he was arrested on suspicion of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, driving under the influence of intoxicants, first-degree criminal mischief and failure to perform the duties of a driver involved in an accident.

Halpin was also cited on a misdemeanor warrant for not showing up for a court appearance in Klamath County . He was booked into the Crook County jail but later released because the jail was full, according to a deputy.

A tow truck pulled the car from the water, according to OSP. Photos of the stolen Model A provided by Prineville Police and the Oregon State Police show damage to the car, including a smashed front end, torn roof and water damage. Boyd said the car is likely totaled.

Although not familiar with the particular car stolen in Prineville Sunday, a road-worthy Model A costs between $12,000 and $15,000, said Wayne “Speedy” Morgan, president of the High Desert A’s, a Bend-based Model A club. He said he hadn’t heard many stories of the cars being stolen.

“It’s rare because they are not your everyday car,” he said.

He said it would be hard for a Model A to blend in with modern-day traffic.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,