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Public Safety

Councilmen Join Family Of Drowning Victim To Call For Memorial Bridge

The sun sets above Mission Trails Regional Park, May 14, 2019.
KPBS Staff
The sun sets above Mission Trails Regional Park, May 14, 2019.

City Councilman Raul Campillo, chair of the Mission Trails Regional Park Task Force, Wednesday expressed support for constructing a pedestrian and bicycle bridge at the San Diego River Crossing in Mission Trails Regional Park to honor the memory of a 21-year-old student who drowned at the crossing in January.

"I will vote to advance this proposal at tomorrow's task force meeting to honor the memory of a young man, Max Lenail, who was loved by so many and who left us far too soon," the District 7 councilman said. "Our park is one of the jewels of our city, and after an extensive review of the family's proposal, I believe that the `Bridge for Max' is not only a step in the right direction but a necessity towards making our park better, safer, and more accessible year-round."

Campillo was joined by fellow council colleague and MTRPTF task force member Joe LaCava.

"I look forward to working together to find a tangible solution, and how we can best honor the memory of Max Lenail," LaCava said.

Ben Lenail and Laurie Yoler — who are in the midst of fundraising for their Bridge for Max proposal — issued a statement saying they are "grateful to Councilmember Campillo for championing the Max Lenail Memorial Bridge effort, which will result in a safer and better park experience for all."

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

"Throughout this process, our family has been greatly comforted by the incredible outpour of community support received, and we remain focused on fundraising and working collaboratively with the City of San Diego and park stakeholders to see this effort through."

Lanail — a student at Brown University and graduate of Palo Alto High School — was on a run in Mission Trails, which encompasses 8,000 acres and more than 60 miles of trails, when he went missing in January. It started to hail on the way back home from his run, and a flash flood caused the river to swell onto the trail.

Lanail drowned in an attempt to cross the river, according to the coroner's office. His body was found by hikers the following day.

"He was the victim of a freak accident while hiking in the wilderness," his father wrote in a Facebook post in January. "As immensely cruel as his death is, we are grateful to God for loaning him to us for 21 years."

Donations for the bridge can be made online.