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Parents of hiker who died at Mission Trails Park present bridge plans

Posted at 1:21 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 02:51:39-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The parents of a young man who died while hiking in the Mission Trails are formally presenting their plan Thursday to get a bridge built in the same area where he was killed, but they fear their plan will face some opposition.

Ben Lenail and Laurie Yoler, the parents of 21-year-old Max Lenail, are hoping they can prevent another tragedy by having a bridge built in a treacherous part of Mission Trails Regional Park.

The developer the couple hired has come up with three proposals that include a metal bridge and two different types of suspension bridges. Ben Lenail described one as “as suspension bridge, that’s environmentally friendly, and made of wood.” He said it is the least expensive of the three.

The parents said there’s also another push by park rangers to build their own bridge for service trucks, which was brought up at the meeting.

Lenail added, "We feel this is an attempt to hijack this window of opportunity into building a bridge which may have merit. But, it doesn't help the hikers, the bikers, the runners, and the first-time visitors."

The couple feels the pedestrian bridge they are proposing and the vehicular bridge mentioned are separate projects. They worry a bridge for vehicles could cause a delay.

"We're saying action needs to be taken now to ensure the safety of other hikers and bikers," Yoler said. "A huge vehicular bridge project is going to a lengthy complex project that will probably get a lot of opposition."

The couple says there were many comments at Thursday's meeting in support of a pedestrian bridge at Mission Trails. They are expecting to present their plans at a special meeting next month.

Councilmember Raul Campillos, who chairs the Mission Trails Regional Park Task Force, sent the following statement to ABC 10News:

"Today's Mission Trails Regional Park Task Force meeting was an important step in the process of constructing a bridge over the San Diego River Crossing. I am working with the Mission Trails Regional Park Citizens Advisory Committee to call a special meeting next month to take further action in support of the bridge construction. My support for Max's family remains the same as it has been from the beginning and will continue until we have constructed a bridge in his memory. "