JOSEPH TEEN CRITiCAL AFTER VEHICLE ACCIDENT

December 11, 2002 12:00 am

JOSEPH — A Joseph teenager is in critical condition in a Spokane hospital after an auto accident Tuesday.

Joy R. Kuppinger, 16, was apparently driving south toward Joseph on Highway 82 about 11:30 a.m., according to police. The road was slick from the first snowfall of the month earlier that morning, according to Oregon State Police investigators.

About a half mile from Joseph, her 1983 red Toyota pickup slid off the road, crossing the oncoming traffic lane and crashing through several fence posts on the east side of the highway.

Kuppinger was found on the ground outside the pickup, which appeared to be totaled; She was conscious and appeared to have chest and leg injuries, police said.

She was taken by ambulance to Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise, where she was treated, then transferred by Air Life to Deaconess Medical Center in Spokane. Some aspects of the wreck have yet to be determined because of the snow-covered road, said the OSP officer on the scene. The Wallowa County Sheriff's Office assisted.

In the summer of 2001, on the Imnaha Highway three miles east of Joseph, Kuppinger's brother Rohs, 17, died when, as a passenger, he was ejected from an auto during an accident.