Bend Whitewater Park
(Bend Whitewater Park; Photo/Shutterstock)

Whitewater Park Tragedy: Teen Surfer Dies After Being Trapped Underwater

Friends pulled 17-year-old Ben Murphy from the water at the Bend Whitewater Water Park on Saturday; however, it was confirmed he passed away on Sunday.

Tragedy struck at the Bend Whitewater Park on Saturday as Ben Murphy was out surfing with a group of friends. The teen reportedly entered the water, became trapped, and died the following day while undergoing treatment at St. Charles Hospital in Bend, Oregon.

“Friends, this is the update I did not want ever to have to share,” commented Keith Kirkpatrick, co-lead pastor at Journey Church in Bend, Ore., on his Facebook page. “Ben is at home with the Lord Jesus. [Unfortunately] he passed away during a small procedure,” Kirkpatrick continued.

Bend Whitewater Park Drowning Accident

According to Bend NewsChannel 21, Fire & Rescue and police reported a water rescue call at the whitewater park at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. The area is frequented by numerous watersport enthusiasts, including surfers, kayakers, bodyboarders, paddleboarders, and more.

Upon arrival, the first responders learned Murphy was surfing with a group when he went underwater and presumably got caught among the rocks.

A stationed webcam video overlooking the surfing area showed the teen entering the water, going under, and not surfacing, the news report said.

The video is also purported to show other surfers entering the water in an attempt to free Murphy. Approximately 5 minutes after the teen initially entered the water, the video showed bystanders running downriver and out of the webcam’s view. It is suggested this area is where Murphy was released out of the water.

Other surfers and members of Murphy’s group pulled him from the water, according to the report.

First responders performed CPR on the scene for about 30 minutes before Murphy was taken to the St. Charles Hospital in Bend by ambulance.

The Bend Park and Recreation District told local reporters that it closed down all wave features following the accident, and that they would remain closed until the conditions were fully assessed.

Park district spokesperson Julie Brown told NewsChannel 21 that since the waterpark opened in 2015, it has not had any incidents of this nature.

Statement From the Murphy Family

Our thoughts and condolences go to the Murphy family and friends.

Heather Hendricks
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Heather Hendricks is a writer at GearJunkie.

She’s been writing about snowboarding, women’s gear, travel, and mountain towns for more than 15 years. Prior to that, Heather worked at TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine as a Contributing Editor and Special Projects Manager. She also worked as a Gear and Travel Editor at Teton Gravity Research. And she worked as an Online Editor of Snowboard Mag.

Based in Colorado, Heather likes to live by the seat of her pants, and is always up for a road trip or spontaneous adventure. She’s currently learning to fly fish, how-to-be a new dog mom, and is van-living and loving it.