Floater Drowns in Whitewater Park | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
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Floater Drowns in Whitewater Park 

A death occurred at Bend's Whitewater Park, the park's second of all time — and this year

Joseph Clarence Torkelson died on Friday, July 22, one day after being recovered from Bend's Whitewater Park, officials said.

click to enlarge A 56-year-old man drowned in Bend's Whitewater Park, the second death at the park this year. The park opened in 2015. - JACK HARVEL
  • Jack Harvel
  • A 56-year-old man drowned in Bend's Whitewater Park, the second death at the park this year. The park opened in 2015.

Torkelson started the float upstream with a roommate on July 21, according to the Bend Police Department. From the footbridge adjacent to Colorado Avenue, passersby spotted the 56-year-old unresponsive in the park's middle passage, upstream from the surf wave. They asked a nearby kayaker to pull him out and by 2:20 pm he was out of the water and was given CPR before the police and fire department arrived, who then continued conducting CPR. The area Torkelson was found is off-limits for floaters.

"Instead of staying to the left to ride through the gentle rapids at Colorado Avenue, Torkelson somehow ended up on the wrong side of the buoys and was sucked under and through the dam. Shortly thereafter, Torkelson was found and pulled from the river," the Bend Police Department wrote in a press release.

click to enlarge The Whitewater Park's middle passage. - JACK HARVEL
  • Jack Harvel
  • The Whitewater Park's middle passage.

The Whitewater Park remained open throughout the incident, though the Colorado Avenue Bridge was briefly closed. Torkelson is the second person to die at Bend's Whitewater Park since April. In April, 17-year-old surfer Ben Murphy drowned after his foot became stuck on an underwater gate that controls the park's surf wave.

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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