▶️ Police: Man rescued next to Bend Whitewater Park was sucked through spillway

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(Clarification: Bend Park and Recreation said there is no longer a dam at the Whitewater Park location. Bend Police initially called it a dam.) 

Police say a man pulled from the water next to Bend Whitewater Park Thursday afternoon was floating the river and somehow ended up going through the spillway beyond the buoys he was found. As of late Friday afternoon, he was listed in critical condition at St. Charles Hospital.

Bend Police have identified the man as Joseph Clarence Torkelson, a 56-year-old from Bend. 

Police say Torkelson was floating the river with a roommate. Instead of staying to the left to ride the gentle rapids just past Colorado Avenue, Torkelson somehow ended up on the right side of the buoys and was sucked under through the spillway. 

RELATED: Bend Fire conducts rescue training at low-head dam

RELATED: Bend’s Whitewater Park reopens after fatal accident

Bend Whitewater Park Rescue July 21, 2022
Firefighters respond to a rescue at Whitewater Park in Bend, Ore., July 21, 2022.

Police say someone on the Colorado Avenue footbridge called 911 around 2:17 p.m. to report they had spotted Torkelson in the water and had directed a kayaker to him.

Within three minutes, bystanders had pulled Torkelson from the water. Police and firefighters performed CPR for more than 10 minutes before he was transported to the hospital. 

Bend PD initially said that the kayaker had also performed CPR before help arrived, but that information was not in a later update from the department.

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