Surfer drowns at Bend’s Whitewater Park | Local News | Fold | The Weekly Source


Ben Murphy, a 17-year-old from Bend, died on May 1 after being trapped underwater for more than six minutes at Bend Whitewater Park the day before. Murphy was riding the standing wave at Whitewater Park when he fell and got stuck in a wave-powering gate shortly after noon.

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  • Credit Jack Harvel
  • More flowers are left in honor of Ben Murphy on a rock where surfers enter the water.

Other surfers jumped in to try to help and, after many attempts, managed to dislodge Murphy. He was pulled ashore upstream and given CPR by paramedics for 30 minutes before being transferred to St. Charles Medical Center.

“We were given 24 hours with our son after he was pronounced dead. This incredible gift from God gave us time to let Ben know how much we loved him and how proud we were of him. man he had become,” Murphy’s father said. , Patrick Murphy, wrote in a statement released by Keith Kirkpatrick, a pastor at Journey Church where the family worshipped.

Doctors worked to resuscitate Murphy with defibrillators, but he was unresponsive. Patrick Murphy said an hour had passed when doctors approached him to let him and his wife know their son had died, but then Murphy showed signs of improvement.

“His finger shook and his heart started beating weakly. We continued to encourage him and the doctors started working on him again. His condition improved and they transferred him to intensive care,” wrote Patrick Murphy.

Murphy’s vital signs improved over the next eight hours and he was given oxygen, medication and sedatives. The next morning, however, he had suffered too much damage to save.

“This morning several of his organs showed severe damage from the trauma he suffered. multiple organs and his body just shut down,” Patrick Murphy wrote.

This is the first time someone has died at Whitewater Park since it opened in 2015. The park is operated by the Bend Park and Recreation District and uses 26 underwater gates and bladders permanently attached to the riverbed.

“To our knowledge, there were no river conditions on Saturday that would have increased the risk. BPRD personnel responded immediately and made operational changes to assist in the rescue efforts of emergency responders,” wrote the BPRD in a statement on May 2.

The surf wave is currently offline and will remain so until BPRD and third-party experts can assess bladder and gate system conditions, parks officials said.

“The Whitewater Park surf wave will remain flat until we can fully assess what may have happened in this tragedy,” BPRD wrote. “These efforts are urgent as seasonal water levels rise over the coming days and weeks.”

The park has had its fair share of injuries and maintenance issues. A month after it opened in September 2015, it had to be closed for repairs after two of the pneumatic lines that inflate the bladders were damaged during construction. In June 2016, the casing flume was closed after people reported injuries and damaged floating gear after it tipped over. Later that year, construction crews were deployed to direct the water into the center of the channel to prevent the floats from getting stuck or overturning.

“With three channels, the work was done at different facilities at different times. The current assessment is focused on the surf wave where the tragedy occurred,” wrote Julie Brown, communications and community relations manager. from the BPRD, in an e-mail.

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Flowers, candles and notes are left at Bend Whitewater Park to commemorate Ben Murphy.  The river bank is where surfers head for the surf wave.  - CREDIT JACK HARVEL

  • Credit Jack Harvel
  • Flowers, candles and notes are left at Bend Whitewater Park to commemorate Ben Murphy. The river bank is where surfers head for the surf wave.

Brown said there were between a dozen and hundreds of surfers on the whitewater channel on any given day. The district will be looking for additional safety measures to reduce risk in the park in light of Murphy’s passing.

“Discussions of emergency shutdown capabilities and water rescue equipment have occurred in the past and are being revisited as part of the current assessment,” Brown wrote in an email.

The whitewater passage and the tube passage will remain in line during the evaluation of the surf wave. Brown said there will be little information until further into the assessment over the next few days. Local surfers are planning a memorial on Saturday, May 7 at 1 p.m. in Bevel in honor of Murphy.


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