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Drowning at Whitewater Park in Bend

On Saturday, April 30, 2022, police responded to a drowning at Whitewater Park, Colorado Avenue Spillway.

According to Sheila Miller, Bend Police’s Communication manager, the time of the incident was around 12:21 p.m.

Ben Murphy, a teen, had become trapped underwater at the artificial gates controlling the water flow to a surf wave for over ten minutes while surfing with a group at Whitewater Park in Bend, Oregon. Finally, members of his group and others could remove him from the river.

First responders then performed CPR for 30 minutes until he got transported to the St.Charles hospital. Emergency medical groups were able to get his heart beating again for a short time. 

Sadly, the teen lost the fight and passed on the afternoon of May 1.

Murphy’s father, Patrick Murphy wrote a statement released to Keith Kirkpatrick, a pastor at Journey Church where the family worshiped. 

“We were given 24 hours with our son after being pronounced dead. This incredible gift from God allowed us to let Ben know just how much we loved him and how proud we were of the man he had become,” the statement said.

Photo by Aaron Rasheed

Currently, Ben’s family and church are asking for gifts to be donated to Pregnancy Resource Centers in memory of him. 

A statement posted on Instagram by the church where Ben’s family worshiped stated, “Ben valued everyday life and believed that every person was born in the image of God. He was a friend to all, loved his family, and believed in the worth of those who may have made mistakes in their past. He knew that every person had value because God valued every person.” 

Anyone that wants to donate can visit this link Ben – Central Oregon for Life.

While this was the first death incident since the park opened in 2015, Bend Parks and Recreation wants to make sure this will not happen again.

Bend Parks and Recreation released a statement on May 11 saying, “All of us at Bend Park and Recreation District are deeply saddened that a young person lost his life. We will begin immediately to assess the conditions of the whitewater park’s bladder and gate system to  ensure safety.”

Photo by Aaron Rasheed
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