Bend man rescues man in wheelchair in canal

Police call him hero for diving in, holding man out of water

POSTED: 7:25 PM PDT June 15, 2013    UPDATED: 10:49 PM PDT June 16, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

A 33-year-old Bend man jumped into an irrigation canal to rescue a man whose motorized wheelchair had plunged in, holding him partly out of the rushing water until police and fire medics arrived, authorities confirmed Sunday.

Police issued a news release Sunday evening identifying the victim and good Samaritan and providing other details of the accident that NewsChannel 21 covered Saturday afternoon.

According to Sgt. John Maniscalco, police and fire medics responded to the canal along the Larkspur Trail around 3 p.m. Saturday after a call from a woman who said she and husband Jesse Thomas had found a man later identified as Randall Bush, 56, of Bend, face-down and still attached to his wheelchair in the shallow canal, near Airpark and Fairwood drives.

Thomas was able to move Bush into a position so he was partly out of the water until help arrived, Maniscalco said.

Police and paramedics helped Thomas remove Bush and his wheelchair from the canal, the sergeant said. Bush was taken by ambulance to St. Charles-Bend, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Maniscalco said.

When NewsChannel 21 was on the scene, the wheelchair was back on land near the canal, still dripping with water.

Neighbors told NewsChannel 21 they didn't personally know the man, but that they see him frequently on the trail.

While he was not on scene Saturday, Maniscalco said the reports made clear Thomas's actions were "very heroic, based on the condition of the victim." He also said there was no indication the canal fall was anything other than an accident.