BEND, OR -- Bend’s Whitewater Park surf wave will remain flat through the long Memorial Day weekend. The Bend Park and Recreation District continues to investigate what happened April 30, when 17-year-old Ben Murphy got trapped underwater while surfing with a group. He later died.
"We have taken this time to really try to do as thorough an evaluation as we can of the surf wave, but also the rest of the Whitewater Park, in particular," says Parks and Rec's Julie Brown. "We’re looking at the physical structure, that does include gates and some inflatable bladders." She says the district brought in the engineer and designers who built the park in 2015, "So that we really can try to piece together what we think happened with that terrible tragedy. And, if there are steps that we might be able to take to minimize the risk."
It's unclear how much longer the assessment will take and when the surf wave will reopen. "One of the significant conversations that will have to take place, and it may occur at some point this week or maybe just immediately following the Memorial Day Holiday, is going to be with our board of directors and sharing with them what the evaluation has determined and what some of the recommendations are going to be moving forward," Says Brown, "That will be a public meeting." She tells KBND News, "I’m hoping that we, as a community, can take some extra precautions this year, in light of this tragedy, and recognize the inherent dangers of the river. And, just take more individual precautions, as well as looking out for one another. I expect that will be a big focus for us throughout the summer."
Murphy’s death is the first fatal accident at the whitewater park.
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Bend Parks & Rec's Julie Brown.