Missing ATV Rider Found Alive

VALLEYFORD, Wash. – A Valleyford man who had been missing since Wednesday was found Sunday afternoon not far from where he was last seen.

John Wipf, 21, was last seen Wednesday morning while riding an ATV near the home of his relatives on Stoughton Road near Valleyford.  A massive search was launched around the area, even as far north as Tower Mountain and Big Rock, but with no success.

But on Sunday, his family and friends from his church were looking for him when a woman who worked with the man’s father found him at the bottom of a small ravine a quarter mile off of Elder Road, south of where he was last seen. 

“A neighbor was out on her own this morning taking another look at where searchers had been there the day before and came across the patient,” said Captain Greg Barker with Spokane County Fire District 8. “We were told this was the missing rider.”

Found down the hill from his ATV, officials say he must have been ejected from the vehicle, he hadn’t moved for four days. Crews were surprised he was still alive.

“He lives a real healthy lifestyle and I’m going to guess that is what he drawed on to stay alive,” said Barker.

According to members of the Wipf’s church, apparently John was riding down a steep hill when his ATV flipped and rolled, ejecting him. Officials say Wipf was conscious for most of the four days, but was paralyzed, unable to move.

When rescuers found him he was in and out of consciousness.

“I’m just glad that somebody came across him and found him,” said Barker.

 Wipf was transported by MedStar to Deaconess Medical Center for treatment. The decision was made to then send him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He is in critical condition with head injuries. After being alone, with no resources for four days, the discovery is miraculous.

“I think we had some pretty significant rainfall on Friday, cooler temperatures at night, with the wind and some warm days, I would have to agree with the family, this would be a miracle,” said Barker.

Friends of the Wipf’s continued the search, even after it was called off Saturday night.

“We decided we weren’t going to quit looking until we found him,” said Billene Westerman, a family friend.

And it was one of the searchers that found him Sunday afternoon, re-uniting family members after a long four days.

“I heard Will, John’s Dad, got up this morning and just said, ‘I just know he’s going to be found today’ and he was,” said Billene. “It was a miracle.”

It was the news family members had been waiting for, a blessing from above.

“We’re elated, we’re just so excited and very thankful to God that this happened and that he’s safe,” said Billene.

Wipf was visiting family before he was to return to Utah, where he was working on an oil rig.