▶️ Bend man pulled from Deschutes River dies


A Bend man who was pulled from the Deschutes River on Thursday near Bend Whitewater Park died Friday, according to the Bend Police Department.

Joseph Clarence Torkelson, 56, was pulled out of the river by bystanders after he apparently went through a spillway. After several minutes of CPR, he was taken to St. Charles Hospital where he remained in critical condition.

Bend Police announced just before 6:00 p.m. Friday that Torkelson died from his injuries.

Although the details of how Torkelson ended up where he did Thursday remain unclear, the incident is a reminder about the need to use caution on the water.

“We encourage people to really scout what they’re doing. Scout what section of the river they are floating before they do it. Many different sections in this community have different water features that pose new hazards or unique hazards that a lot of people aren’t ready for,” said Rescue Team Specialist Mitch Webb with Bend Fire and Rescue.

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

Webb also says to be prepared for cold water, watch for debris and understand how strong the river currents can be. 

Tyler Morchinek of Bend told us that floating the river is all about keeping his kids safe.

“Today, definitely made the kids wear life jackets and just hyper aware of being safe,” said Morchinek.

Maryellen Barks of Bend tells us what you’re floating in matters.

“If you’re going to go down the river, do it in something sturdy,” said Barks.

One young floater tells us why she wears a life jacket.

“I think it’s quite important because if you get stuck in between the rapids and you fall out, then it will help keep you afloat,” said Jessica Wills.


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