The Whitewater Park in Bend reopened Saturday morning, seven weeks after an accident that claimed the life of a Bend teen.
Surfers dropped in on the wave, with mixed emotions.
Happy to be back out doing what they love, but remembering the tragedy that occurred on the river.
“We’ve had a lot of time to you know think about it, just like accept what happened. So now I’m excited but I’m also using it with caution,” said Isabel Rodhouse, a surfer from Bend.
On April 30th, 17 year-old Ben Murphy became entrapped in the gaps of the gates that control the recreation area’s waves.
The accident prompted Bend Park and Recreation to close the wave, launch an investigation, and make changes to the structure.
They installed blocks to fill the gaps and banned the use of leashes that surfers often use to tether themselves to their board.
“It’s just different ballgame when you’re swimming through Class III without the leash,” said surfer Tommy Deck.
“Also could be dangerous for the people down there with the boards going down,” added surfer Seth Colton.
“I know that there’s going to be a lot more swimming for my board now, but that just comes with it I guess,” added Rodhouse.
Several of the surfers at the re-opening were there on the day, but not at the time, of the accident.
They spoke of the community around surfing the man made wave on the Deschutes River.
“For all the people that were there for it, I feel for them and the kids family, rough situation,” said Colton.
River surfers are encouraged to wear personal flotation devices and a helmet, a rack with loaner gear now sits on shore next at the entrance to the river.
“I like that they have the helmets and the life vests for people,” added Deck.