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San Diego Councilman And Senator Secure $1.5 Million For ‘Bridge For Max’

Laurie Yoler, mother of Max Lenail, speaks at Mission Trails Regional Park on...

Photo by John Carroll

Above: Laurie Yoler, mother of Max Lenail, speaks at Mission Trails Regional Park on July 22, 2021

City Councilman Raul Campillo on Thursday announced $1.5 million in state funding for the "Bridge for Max" initiative to construct a pedestrian and bicycle bridge at the San Diego River Trail Crossing in the park where a 21-year-old man drowned in January.

Max LeNail family's proposal for the bridge was unanimously passed by the MTRP Citizens Advisory Committee and Task Force earlier this year.

RELATED: Councilmen Join Family Of Drowning Victim To Call For Memorial Bridge

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

The state funding was awarded to the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation, according to Campillo, who chairs the Mission Trails Regional Park Task Force.

"I'm thrilled to announce the Bridge for Max initiative has been accelerated by this wonderful development," the District 7 councilman said at a news conference in the park. "Thanks to the tireless advocacy of the LeNail/Yoler family and exemplary leadership from Sen. Atkins representing us in Sacramento, we are receiving a crucial investment in a bridge that will make our park more accessible year-round for San Diegans and tourists."

RELATED: Effort Underway To Build Bridge In Mission Trails Park After Hiker Drowned

California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, helped secure the funding.

"There have been many issues I've worked on this past year and many crises to solve for. But when it comes to issues of the heart, actions speak louder than words," she said. "That is why I am proud to announce we have allocated $1.5 million in this year's state budget to the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation for the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the San Diego River. This bridge not only honors the memory of Max LeNail, but it also ensures the safety of all future visitors to the park."

His parents, Ben LeNail and Laurie Yoler, attended the news conference.

"We are eternally grateful for Councilmember Campillo's early and passionate leadership with the Max LeNail Memorial Bridge," LeNail and Yoler said in a joint statement. "We are also deeply honored by Senate President Pro Tem Atkins' sponsorship of the project. With this transformational funding, we are now well positioned to build a bridge at the San Diego River Crossing in Mission Trails Regional Park that will provide improved access and safe passage to park guests, and honor our beloved son Max."

Video by Roland Lizarondo

Lenail and Yoler also spoke to KPBS reporter John Carroll. They both said this is what their son would've wanted.

"I heard Max’s voice saying you gotta keep righting wrongs and this is a wrong. Someone else could get hurt, so go do something about it," said Yoler.

Lenail said, "We want to really mark that site and have something that is a very long term testament to his life."

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