By Tim Eberly
Joseph Dunbar walked two miles from the site of a car accident Friday evening toward his ranch before neighbors spotted the injured elderly man and picked him up.
Dunbar, 85, a Chinook-area resident, is one of two men who were hurt in car accidents on the Hi-Line this weekend.
Eric Kleinsasser, 21, was in critical condition in a Great Falls hospital after he fell asleep at the wheel of his vehicle 28 miles south of Chester, the Montana Highway Patrol said.
Dunbar passed out during a coughing spell while he was driving south on a county road 34 miles south of Chinook about 5:45 p.m. Friday, the Highway Patrol said.
Dunbar, a semiretired rancher and farmer, suffered a couple of broken ribs, as well as some bruises and contusions, said Judy Dunbar, his wife of 27 years.
He was listed in satisfactory condition this morning in Northern Montana Hospital.
After he lost consciousness, Dunbar's GMC pickup drifted off the road and became wedged in a deep culvert, the Highway Patrol said. The accident occurred about three miles north of the Dunbar home. Dunbar was on his way back from Chinook, his wife said.
After Dunbar came to, he got out and began walking.
"He hasn't walked that far in a long time," Judy Dunbar said today.
Kleinsasser, a former Chester resident, suffered a collapsed lung and broken left arm, said his sister, Kylie Kleinsasser. He lost control of his 1998 Dodge pickup at 3:15 a.m. Sunday while northbound on State Road 223, according to the Highway Patrol. The pickup rolled several times, and Kleinsasser was flown to Benefis Healthcare in Great Falls.
He was in critical condition this morning, hospital spokeswoman Brandy Hansen said today.
"He's OK. He's awake," Kylie Kleinsasser, Eric's older sister, said today when reached at the waiting room of the hospital's intensive care unit. "He writes down on a piece of paper when he wants something."
The young man will remain in the hospital for a couple days, she added.
Kleinsasser's pickup veered off the right side of the road, struck an approach and then an inclined cement culvert, Highway Patrol officer Roger Hinckley said. Kleinsasser, who was probably not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and landed about 30 feet from the pickup in a dirt field, the officer said.
The pickup landed upright, partially on the highway and facing west.
Two women arrived at the crash scene 15 minutes after the accident, the officer said, and notified authorities. Kleinsasser was in and out of consciousness, the officer said.
Kleinsasser had been on a one-month vacation from working for an oil company in California. He was returning to Liberty County after visiting friends in Helena, his sister said.