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Smith Rock hiker takes rough trip through canal tunnel

Sustained minor injuries - rescuers say he's lucky

Refreshing dip becomes treacherous trip

TERREBONNE, Ore. - It was a ride he didn't want to take.

"It took, I don't know, about two or three minutes for me to go through."

Kaedon Parker had just finished a hike near Smith Rock State Park Thursday afternoon with three friends when they decided to dip their feet into a canal.

However, Parker slipped in and got carried away through a tunnel. It wasn't over once he got through it.

"The second it opened up, I see a small tunnel that I don't think my head would've cleared," he said. "The second I saw that, I just got terrified and pulled myself out of the river with the first rock I saw. That's when I tore my hand up."

That irrigation canal tunnel, which travels under the eastern part of the park, goes upward at one point, with no clearance. Officials said he probably wouldn't have made it out of that one alive. As it was, Parker sustained only minor injuries.

Back upstream, his friends called 911 around 2:45 p.m. after unsuccessfully trying to pull him ashore before he went through the tunnel.

"I run around and try to help him, and my other buddy tries to help him, and we almost slipped in as well," said friend David Liddell. "It was really a crazy moment."

Liddell cut his foot on the rocks while trying to save his friend.

Redmond Fire & Rescue, aided by Deschutes and Jefferson County sheriff's deputies, were called out to search for the young man and were preparing for a water rescue. They found Parker hiking back to his friends along Burma Road, having been able to pull himself out of the canal on the Sherwood Canyon side.

"It's not the first time that this has happened," said Redmond Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Dave Pickhardt. "It's a very dangerous spot. People shouldn't be in the canal. It's a very dangerous place to be. We don't want them in there or going through the tunnel."

They note that the canals have a deceivingly fast current.

But Parker said he didn't know he wasn't supposed to be there.

"I didn't know it was illegal," he said. "I figured it was frowned upon. But we just thought we were dipping our feet in. We didn't want to try to go for a swim or anything."

Might putting a sign up might stop people from making the same mistake?

"The sign might stop a few people going in," Parker said. "But I mean, otherwise, I don't think anybody's going to listen to some sign saying 'don't go in this water' when it's 78 degrees outside and after a four-mile hike."

But that doesn't mean he thinks it's a good idea.

"I wouldn't recommend it," he said. "The last thing you want to do is walk up a cliffside with no shirt, no shoes and no pants."

That wasn't the only Smith Rock rescue effort this afternoon. Minutes later, a 64-year-old Monmouth man reported to searchers in the area that his wife, also 64, injured herself as they hiked the Wolf Creek Trail.

Sheriff's Search and Rescue were already there, hiked in and brought her out a mile and a half by wheeled litter.


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