Two Dead at Hunnell Campsite | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Two Dead at Hunnell Campsite

Two people died, presumably from the extreme heat, in the area popular for houseless campers Sunday

Update, 7/2/21: The Oregon State Medical Examiner confirmed that two people died from the extreme heat wave. Both were male, one was 64 and the other was 60.

Two men died on Sunday at the camp on Hunnell Road as Bend surpassed its highest June temperature in recorded history, and on Tuesday its highest temperature ever at 109 degrees. he two men were Joseph Davis and Alonzo Boardman, known as Joe and Lonnie, succumbed to the heat by the volunteers who work closely with the houseless population on Hunnell.

The Deschutes County Medical Examiner did not respond to our requests for more information. Volunteer describe Davis as an older man who used a wheelchair. He had likely lived at the camp on Hunnell for less than a week and was living at the camp on Emerson Avenue until it was cleared by the City on June 23. People who knew him said that he had a great sense of humor. Volunteers on Hunnell spoke highly of Boardman, saying he was popular with other people living there and kept his tent, and later his trailer, very neat, they said. 

“He was like an uncle and brother to folks around here,” said Jon Riggs, founder of local non-profit Helpers, formed as a nonprofit in December. “We do this thing where people donate trailers and we make them livable, and then offer them to people. We actually got Lonnie a trailer a couple months ago.” 

click to enlarge Two Dead at Hunnell Campsite
Jack Harvel
A camper that flies a U.S. Navy flag also displays a sign depicting society along Hunnell Road north of Bend.
Boardman was discovered in the trailer on Sunday afternoon. Central Oregon Peacekeepers Founder Luke Richter told OPB that when the body was discovered it was already too late. “It was basically a microwave in there,” he said. 

Cooling stations were set up at the campsite on Saturday. Water, Gatorade and food was distributed by volunteers at cold-water spraying stations.  

“The cooling shelter was here yesterday (Sunday), I just don't think it was in full force,” said Tyler Gartland, treasurer of the medical support nonprofit Central Oregon Street Aid. “Peacekeepers reached out to us, asking if we could come today, especially after the two deaths yesterday, so I sent out a text message to all of our volunteers, and we were actually able to rally together and will probably be here the next three days.” 

After the deaths, donations flowed into the camps and cooling centers. On Hunnell volunteers said they should have enough water to at least last through the heat wave. Their biggest needs as of Monday were ice, neck gaiters and fruit. 

“One of the things that's great about Central Oregon is that we collaborate and we're a community, we come together when there's a need, and that’s service providers and mutual aid groups, but it’s also the community as a whole. The people of Central Oregon really see a need, there's a call for help, and people show up,” said Colleen Thomas, chair of the Homeless Leadership Coalition. 

click to enlarge Two Dead at Hunnell Campsite (2)
Jack Harvel
About 80-100 people have set up camp on Hunnell Road in Bend, Oregon. The area is especially susceptible to problems with the heat due to lack of shade and the hot asphalt.
Though many people came out to support the camp, hostile people have also been disrupting volunteer efforts. Riggs said people have thrown eggs and rocks, have driven aggressively down the road. Some have also posted videos online of themselves disparaging campers.  

“Some dude was driving down the road while he was videotaping this saying all kinds of profanity and then he posted it,” Larry Patton, who lives on Hunnell, said. 

The extreme three-digit heat should ease a little bit by Wednesday, but not by much and forecasted daytime highs don’t drop below 90 degrees for the next two weeks.

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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