‘It’s incumbent upon us to find remedies,’ Don Horton tells park board
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Bend Whitewater Park’s wave pool, where a 17-year-old surfer became trapped underwater and later died, is closed for an investigation and any needed “remedies.” but the teen’s father said he hopes it can reopen — as soon as it’s made safer, Bend Park and Recreation District Executive Director Don Horton said Tuesday night.
“We are closing the wave pool. The design team is going to investigate the entire water park, not just this lane,” Don Horton told the park board at its meeting.
Horton said the park district reached out to the pastor of Ben Murphy’s family to share their “deepest sorrow, prayers and thoughts” about this “very unfortunate, tragic incident.”
Horton said Patrick Murphy, the father of Ben Murphy, the Bend Tech Academy junior who died Sunday, told the park district his family has enjoyed and frequented the facility.
“He loves the water park,” Horton said. “He just asked that we find out what caused this. He wants us to be able to reopen it as soon as we can – but of course, he wants it to be safe.”
“It’s incumbent upon us to find remedies,” Horton said, and to make whatever changes are needed for it to be “as safe as we can make it.”
“One can’t ever build something like this and say it’s perfectly safe,” the park district leader said, noting the element of risk in such facilities.
“We know we have some things we need to do, and we intend to do them,” Horton said, and “intend to share the results, when we can share them.”
While the water level at now is “optimal” for an investigation, “it’s not going to stay that way,” he said. “When the water goes up, it’s going to be harder to go in.”
“We will keep you all informed,” he told the board, “and the public informed as well.”
Park Board Chair Ariel Mendez said he “felt sick to my stomach” when Horton told him the teen had nearly drowned while surfing with his father and later died.
“I want to acknowledge the unimaginable pain of losing a child,” he said. “My thoughts and heart are with the family and the friends as they grieve.”
Park Board Vice-Chair Deb Schoen said she was proud of the district staff who did what they could amid “this unimaginable tragedy,” and in the days since. “I want to thank each and every one of you for your professionalism in doing your job.”
“I weep with the rest of the community,” she added.
The board later approved on a 4-1 vote (with Jason Kropf voting no) an increase in system development charges as of July 1.
The SDC for a single-family home will rise 9.82%, from about $8,800 to $9,738, based on a methodology formula taking into account increases in construction and land costs.
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