Children rescued from sticky mud

Firefighters pulled four cold and frightened children from the sticky mud of Mirror Pond late Tuesday afternoon after they sunk to their waists while looking for crawdads.

The four youngsters spent 45 minutes in the icy muck before rescuers could pull them out. All four had dangerously low body temperatures and three were taken to St. Charles Medical Center for evaluation following the ordeal.

“All of them were very, very cold,” said Capt. Bob Madden of the Bend Fire Department. The children had body temperatures as low as 93 degrees, low enough to induce hypothermia.

Tyler Nicoll, age 9, and Chelsea Nicoll and Chris Moe, both 8, were released from the hospital after being examined. Patricia Kitelinger, 10, was taken home after the rescue.

According to a report, at least two of the children had stopped on their way home from school to catch crawdads in the Descutes River, which has been lowered to allow repairs to Pacific Power’s dam. The operation has exposed large mud flats in Mirror Pond.

The children ventured across the flats and sunk after stepping into soft mud. The others came to help and also got stuck.

“I saw Tyler was up to his waist and I went to help and as soon as I got close I sank to my knees. It was really cold,” said a shivering Patricia Kitelinger.

Firefighters laid a 25-foot ladder and then a 14-foot ladder across the mud to reach the children. Firefighter Leo Renk, wearing a diver’s dry suit, reached the children and pulled them out.

Renk said the mud was so this he could barely pull the children free. At one point he slipped into the muck himself and almost couldn’t get out.

“There was no bottom. I don’t know what kept me from going on down,” he said.

The pond was drained Monday to let Pacific Power workers locate and repair two leaks in rotting timbers in the spillway mechanism at the bottom of the 80-year-old dam.

Repairs were completed this morning and the pond will be refilled starting Thursday morning.

Source: The Bulletin ©1993

Comment Letter from Leonard W. Peoples

Leonard W. Peoples
708 NW Riverside
Bend, Oregon, 97701

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
823 N Capitol Street NE
Washington DC 10426

Subject: Bend Hydroelectric Project FERC No. 2643

These comments represent a private citizen who was born in Bend, raised in a house that faces Mirror Pond and has returned to the same house after retirement.

I request that you reissue the operating license to Pacific Power and Light for the continued use of their generating facilities for the following reasons:

  1. PP&L built this dam and maintains it without any expense to the tax payer.
  2. It provides employment at skilled jobs that pay more than minimum wage.
  3. With all the pressure on the local fishing areas by the sport fishermen, it is unlikely that the few additional fish that would benefit from the removal of the turbines would survive of even be noticed.
  4. The cost of the environmental impact statement would be a waste of money as the EIS is intended to ensure that all aspects of a project are properly evaluated before it is built. Since this project has been built for 70 years, it is just a little late.
  5. The residents of Bend would never let the dam be removed as it would drain Mirror Pond and reduce the river to a small stream with large mudflats on each side. Since the dam would remain and without PP&L to maintain the dam, it would fall to local taxpayers to assume this cost. This would result in more government agencies and more taxes. This is an activity that should be avoided in this time of large governmental deficits.

Sincerely yours,

Leonard M. Peoples


Sam and Leonard Peoples with their swan boar on Mirror Pond, circa 1934. Courtesy Des Chutes Historical Museum
Sam and Leonard Peoples with their swan boat and the neighbor girls on Mirror Pond, circa 1934.
Courtesy Des Chutes Historical Museum