The boy named Dax called his mother Sunday to say they needed help, but he could not provide a location.
Spokane 9-1-1 worked with a phone company to learn the phone's signal pinged on a cellular tower near Stanfield, Ore.
A state trooper called the father's phone, and Dax provided a description of the area, including that a train was passing by.
That detail led troopers to a spot where they knew tracks paralleled the freeway. Trooper John Lombardi saw the vehicle on the shoulder of Interstate 84.
The father, though in critical condition, is expected to survive.
Dax's mother, Rachael Bardwell, said her son wants to become a police officer.
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