Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Devan Schwartz


During Saturday's demolition derby at the Baker City fairgrounds the crowd cheered for crunched cars and dented fenders.

But a black cloud hung low - the knowledge that freestyle motorcyclist Ian Warner, 29, had been injured the night before, practicing for the halftime jump.

Event organizer J.R. Streifel was there when the accident took place.

"Ian was way, way up in the air," he said. "His bike stalled when he was up there and he kicked it away from him and landed where the jump met the flat."

The ambulance arrived in about four minutes, and after being taken to St. Alphonsus Medical Center-Baker City, Warner, of Baker City, was flown via Life Flight helicopter to Saint Alphonsus in Boise.

He suffered a broken lumbar vertebrae 3 and a broken left femur.

Knowing that Warner lacks health insurance, Streifel already started fundraising during the event on Saturday night. The derby car which he helped rebuild was auctioned off twice in order to help Warner.

Until a bank account can be set up, donations can be mailed or delivered to Streifel's auto repair shop, Grumpy's, at 225 H Street.

Warner's wife, Amy Barnes-Warner, was loading their daughters, Ruby, 5, and Livie, 3, in the car to watch the practice. That's when she received the call. It was J.R.'s wife Dana on the line who delivered the bad news.

"I'm glad I missed it," Barnes-Warner said. "But he was wearing every bit of protective equipment he could wear.

"And I hope people realize that there are dangers in extreme sports, but there are positives too. Ian has raced since he was eight years old."

Barnes-Warner knows her husband would have wanted the show to go on - and it did, with his best friend Mark Houk of Walla Walla, Wash., and Neal Allen of the Tri-Cities, Wash., jumping motorcycles for a rapt crowd on Saturday evening.

Back in Boise, Ian Warner underwent a seven-hour surgery to repair his back and leg.

Surgeons installed a titanium rod that runs from his hip to his knee.

"And today they fit him for a brace from his rib cage to his butt and down his good leg. He'll have to wear it 24/7 for 10 weeks," Barnes-Warner said.

"The doctors said that most patients with such a severe break are paralyzed, and he's not."

Barnes-Warner said her husband should return home in a week to 10 days.

In the meantime, her parents, who live in Pendleton, have taken their daughters.

Barnes-Warner thanked the community for their support, including an outpouring of text messages and phone calls.