BEND, OR-- Warm weather brings renewed calls for safety at Bend’s Whitewater Park. Julie Brown, with Bend Parks and Rec, says recent rule changes caught some users by surprise, "We’re not allowing leashes of any kind. And, that is an adjustment for surfers in particular. The large majority of surfers previously had been using a leash attached to their surfboard." She tells KBND News, "Anything that has the ability to hold you underwater can be a real hazard. So, we have a new rule where we’re not allowing leashes."
The new rule is in response to an April 30th incident that killed a local surfer. An investigation found the teen’s leash may have gotten caught in part of the wave mechanism, pulling him underwater.
Brown says, "We’re also strongly encouraging the use of helmets and life jackets, or PFDs. For life jackets and PFDs, we worked with Bend Paddle Trail Alliance and have some loaners available".
Brown says surfing in a river is unique, "The whitewater park includes class 3 and above whitewater conditions and so these safety improvements are really important for everyone to continue to enjoy it."
Photo courtesy Bend Park and Recreation District