Accident Database

Report ID# 36668

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Man dies, daughter hurt after going over waterfall near Bend

The Deschutes River downstream from Dillon Falls near Bend.
The Deschutes River downstream from Dillon Falls near Bend. (Deschutes County Sheriff's Office)

UPDATE: The victims have been identified.

An elderly man died Thursday after the canoe he and his adult daughter were in capsized on the Deschutes River near Bend and sent them over a waterfall, authorities said.

The father, who along with his daughter hasn't yet been identified by the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, died after arriving at St. Charles Hospital in Bend. The daughter remains hospitalized and is expected to survive.

She lives in Bend, and her father was visiting her from out of town, the sheriff's office said. 

Someone fly fishing near Dillon Falls southwest of Bend called 911 around 3:15 p.m. and reported seeing the two being swept downstream, the sheriff's office said. The father and daughter were both wearing life jackets and weren't able to swim to shore before going over the falls.

The relatives were found later floating downstream from the falls by other people on the river trail and were pulled from the water by kayakers, the sheriff's office said.  Emergency responders got to the father and daughter about 30 minutes after the 911 call was made.

The sheriff's office has not yet said what led to the canoe overturning.

-- Everton Bailey Jr.


Bend Paralympian survives, father dies in canoeing accident

Pair were swept over rapids at Dillon Falls

A blind Paralympian from Bend and her father, visiting from Wyoming, took a canoe trip on the Deschutes River above Dillon Falls that turned tragic Thursday afternoon when the canoe overturned and both were swept over the rapids, killing the man and injuring his daughter, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.

Lt. Bryan Husband on Friday morning identified the two people involved as Nancy Stevens, 57, of Bend and her father, Ronald Stevens, 84, of Jackson, Wyoming.

Husband said they had put their borrowed canoe into the river at Dillon Falls, intending to paddle upstream.

But they lost control of the canoe and it overturned, knocking the pair, who were wearing life jackets,into the water. The two were unable to swim to shore, Husband said, and were swept over the falls. a steep and violent Class 5 rapids.

County 911 dispatchers first got word of the accident around 3:15 p.m. from someone fly-fishing near the Dillon Falls day use area, who saw two people in a canoe get swept downstream, toward the falls.

The area above the falls has warning signs for boaters, since the falls only come into view around a bend in the river after a wide, placid stretch of water.


 total of 15 Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue volunteers, four deputies, Bend Fire Department personnel and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers responded to the area of Dillon Falls and Aspen Camp, with the first arriving in less than 15 minutes.

Other onlookers who were on the river trail said they saw the two people floating downstream from the falls and directed nearby kayakers to the location, Husband said. They were the first to reach the unconscious man, bringing him to the embankment by the river trail. 

Hikers on the trail immediately began CPR efforts, while the kayakers paddled across the river to the woman’s location and helped her back to the trail with the others.

Around 3:45 p.m., Bend Fire medics and deputies reached the people on shore by the trail and took over CPR efforts on Ronald Stevens.

SAR volunteers used an inflatable boat and motor to travel upstream from Aspen Camp to the spot where rescue efforts were underway. They took Nancy Stevens, who had non-life-threatening injuries, back to Aspen Camp in their boat, where other Bend Fire medics took over her care, then brought her by ambulance to St. Charles Bend.

Resuscitation efforts on Ronald Stevens ultimately were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead, Husband said. 

A house supervisor at St. Charles Bend said Nancy Stevens was in good condition Friday morning.

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