Victim identified in Rogue River drowning as local doctor

Victim identified in Rogue River boating accident (Jennevieve Fong/News 10)

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office has identified the man who died in a boating accident on Monday as Jon Van Valkenburg, 54, of Medford.

His death has been determined as an accident, according to the Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office. The cause of death, specifically, was drowning.

The JCSO marine patrol deputies discovered that Van Valkenburg was fishing with his son in a raft on the Rogue River in Shady Cove yesterday. When Van Valkenburg pulled on a rope to retrieve the anchor, he became entangled in the rope, which pulled him overboard. He was apparently unable to free himself, according to authorities. The rope was wrapped around his hand and the current held him underwater.

When emergency rescue personnel deployed a raft to reach him on the river, they found Van Valkenburg submerged and unresponsive. Deputies say he was wearing an inflatable personal floatation device (PFD), however, it was not inflated, making it ineffective. They freed him from the rope and attempted to resuscitate him.

The JCSO says that while PFD use may not have affected the outcome in this case due to the nature of the accident, deputies remind people that it is best to use inherently buoyant Type I PFD’s when boating on rivers.

Dr. Jon Van Valkenburg was a primary care physician with Providence Health & Services Medical Group in Medford. According to his Providence professional profile, he first moved to the Rogue Valley in 1999.

"All of us who knew Dr. Jon Van Valkenburg are feeling a sense of deep sadness today," said Medical Director of Providence Dr. Karen Kronman. "He had a true devotion to his patients. They frequently told us how much his care for them – and, more importantly, about them – meant in their lives."

Kronman expressed her gratitude on behalf of the medical group for Van Valkenburg's two decades of service to southern Oregon, and that their "hearts go out to his well as to their children, family, friends and all his patients."

This story has been updated with the statements released by Providence Medical Group.

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