Teen surfer drowns at Oregon whitewater park

A 17-year-old surfer died after being trapped underwater at artificial rapids installed in a river that runs through Bend, Ore.

Ben Murphy, of Bend, had been surfing Saturday at the “experts” area of ​​Bend Whitewater Park when he apparently got a foot stuck in one of the gates that controls water flow.

Other surfers rushed to try to free him but he remained trapped for about six minutes, until the whitewater flow was shut off. He was then pulled from the river and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead that night.

In a public statement, the city’s parks department said: “The whitewater park’s surf wave will remain flat until such time that we can fully assess what might have occurred in this tragedy.” It said there were no known river conditions on Saturday that would have caused heightened risk.

It is the first death at the park, which opened in 2015. A series of panels and bladders affixed to the bed of the Deschutes River are used to create ripples and rapids in two channels, one for easy floating and the other for more aggressive kayaking and surfing.

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