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Opinion » Letters to the Editor

Hoods In The Woods

16-year-old Portland boy dies with one of the area's increasingly infamous "hoods in the woods" intervention programs.

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A story in a recent edition of the Bend Bulletin detailed the circumstances surrounding the death of Sergey Blashchishen, the 16-year-old Portland boy who collapsed on a day-long hike with one of the area's increasingly infamous "hoods in the woods" intervention programs. Perhaps the only thing more disturbing than his final hours in which he reportedly faltered, vomited, collapsed and died while his councilors looked but did little to intervene was the circumstances around his "admission" to Redmond-based SageWalk Wilderness Schools. According to an official affidavit quoted in the piece, Blashchishen was unknowingly enrolled in the school for, among other teen ailments, being "uninterested in studying or thinking about his future." The school contracted with a pair of "transporters" to yank the teen from his bedroom while he slept. After being dragged blindfolded across the state with no information as to where he was headed, he was sent out with little to eat, but a 40-lb pack on his back, for a grueling hike from which he would never return. It's not an isolated case. Another "student" died at a now-defunct Bend wilderness school in 2000 after being pinned to the ground by a staff member.

So far no charges have been brought in Sergey's case but the rest of the students/prisoners have, thankfully, been sent home from SageWalk and the lead investigator is treating Sergey's death as a homicide. But there's another crime here: the fact that these teen extreme boot camps are still operating anywhere in the state. How many more kids have to die getting an "attitude adjustment" from some wannabee drill sergeant before state regulators wake up to that fact. WTF.

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