The Bend Parks and Recreation District outlined a plan this week to reopen the surf wave feature at the Bend Whitewater Park following a teen’s death in April.
The plan implements several safety changes, and would allow use of the surf wave to resume June 18.
A surfer, 17-year-old Ben Murphy, died this spring after becoming trapped by a pneumatic gate that helps create the wave at the park. Murphy was trapped underwater for six minutes, according to the Bend Bulletin.
Murphy was the first person to die at the water park since it opened in 2015.
After his death, parks staff evaluated the wave feature and found that a gap between the gate and a solid block that helps form the wave presented a potential danger.
On May 25, workers installed “sweepers” to eliminate the gap between the block and the moveable gate.
The review also found that a leash attached between Murphy’s leg and his surfboard, as well as low water conditions, may have played a role in his death. To that end, the parks department said it will prohibit the use of leg leashes at the Bend Whitewater Park for now. That rule may be adjusted in the future.
Parks staff said if people violate the leash ban, they may flatten the surf wave to gain compliance. They are also recommending that people wear helmets and a personal flotation device when surfing on the wave.
In a statement, parks officials said they are looking into possibly installing inflatable bladders on the gates for quick opening when needed, and are likely to install a new web camera at the water park to better observe activity there.