Drunk driver crashes into truck, which then smashes Sumpter bar

By Jayson Jacoby / The Baker City Herald

By Jayson Jacoby

jjacoby@bakercityherald.com

A Sumpter man is charged with drunken driving and 11 counts of reckless endangerment after crashing his pickup truck into another pickup which then slammed into the Elkhorn Saloon in Sumpter Friday evening.

Delbert Gene Phillips, 68, of 500 S.W. Cupid Ave. in Sumpter, is in the Baker County Jail. His bail was set at $31,333.

No one was injured in the incident, which happened about 10:30 p.m. Friday.

Police are trying to determine whether Phillips crashed his 1997 Ford F-250 pickup intentionally, District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff said.

Phillips had been in the Elkhorn Saloon just before the crash, Shirtcliff said.

Phillips allegedly made statements to other bar patrons, but Shirtcliff said he doesn't have details about those statements, or whether they had anything to do with Phillips' later actions.

Phillips was driving "at a high rate of speed" when he crashed into a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup owned by Dick Newman and Lynette Bollington of Sumpter, Shirtcliff said.

The force pushed the Chevy pickup into the Elkhorn Saloon. About 20 people were inside, Shirtcliff said.

The impact caused "substantial property damage" to the Elkhorn Saloon, which is owned by Sharyn Epler.

Shirtcliff said he plans to take the case to a grand jury, and it's possible that Phillips will be charged with other crimes based on the threat his actions posed to people both inside and outside the bar.

In addition to a charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants and the 11 counts of reckless endangerment, Phillips is charged with two counts of criminal mischief.

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The Baker City Herald
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