Hiker's Death Prompts Push For A Pedestrian Bridge At Mission Trails Park

By Rebekah Gonzalez

February 22, 2021

21-year-old Max Lenail was on a run in Mission Trails Park when he was caught in a severe rain and hailstorm on January 29.

Later, San Diego Police found Max's body and returned his phone to his parents.

Ben Lenail and Laurie Yoler told NBC7 videos and a map on Max's phone helped answer questions about what led to his death.

They found a video Max took at Fortuna Peak just 20 to 25 minutes before his death.

"It's of course very heartbreaking for us because little did he [Max] know he was about to walk into a death trap," said Ben.

A map tracking his run was also found and shows that Max was just 10 minutes away from safety.

"He knew his car was only 10 minutes away and he would have to retrace his steps five miles, so he ended up trying to cross the river," Lenail said. "The water was too strong, and he got submerged and died."

Lenail said the medical examiner told him the cause of death was drowning, confirming their belief that Max died trying to cross the San Diego River Crossing.

Now they're working with local stakeholders to build a pedestrian bridge over the crossing.

“We want to make sure we improve the park and that we ensure the safety of people like him [Max]. He was an avid hiker, runner, climber. We want to make sure no one else ever gets injured or dies at that crossing," said Lenail. "We can’t think of a better way to honor our son’s memory."

Photo: Getty Images

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